LeBron James posted a triple-double as the in-form Los Angeles Lakers topped the San Antonio Spurs 103-96 in NBA action on Sunday.

James record his second successive triple-double courtesy of 21 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds to lead the Lakers to their fifth consecutive victory.

Star team-mate Anthony Davis chipped in with 25 points and 11 rebounds, while Dwight Howard had 14 points and 13 rebounds for the Lakers – who improved to 5-1.

The Spurs were led by Dejounte Murray's 18 points and 11 rebounds in An Antonio, where Rudy Gay added 16 points off the bench.

Kawhi Leonard put up 30 points as the Los Angeles Clippers defeated the visiting Utah Jazz 105-94 – the home team using a 40-point final quarter to get the win.

Meanwhile, Jimmy Butler impressed in the Miami Heat's 129-100 victory over the Houston Rockets.

Butler had 18 points, nine assists, seven rebounds and four steals for the Heat, who raced out to a 46-14 lead after the opening quarter and never looked back to register a third straight win.

James Harden scored 29 points for Houston, while Russell Westbrook was held to just 10 on three-of-11 shooting.

 

Doncic fuels Mavericks

Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic scored 29 and added 15 assists and 14 rebounds — his second straight triple-double — to key a 131-111 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

 

Porter has game to forget

Chicago Bulls forward Otto Porter Jr. hit one of 10 shots in a 108-95 loss to the Indiana Pacers.

 

Windmill!

De'Aaron Fox stole the ball and had plenty of time to plan the perfect dunk for the Sacramento Kings, who beat the New York Knicks 113-92.

 

Sunday's results

Indiana Pacers 108-95 Chicago Bulls
Miami Heat 129-100 Houston Rockets
Sacramento Kings 113-92 New York Knicks
Los Angeles Lakers 103-96 San Antonio Spurs
Dallas Mavericks 131-111 Cleveland Cavaliers
Los Angeles Clippers 105-94 Utah Jazz

 

76ers at Suns

The Phoenix Suns have been a minor surprise, winning their last two despite the suspension of center Deandre Ayton. The Philadelphia 76ers are still perfect, but have had a couple of close calls against the Atlanta Hawks and Portland Trail Blazers.

Brooklyn faced adversity early against Houston on Friday night, but they rebounded to claim a 123-116 victory at Barclays Center.

The Nets fell into a hole early and trailed by as much as 15 in the first half before it found scoring from some surprising places.

Taurean Prince unexpectedly led the way offensively with a team-high 27 points for Brooklyn while Garrett Temple chipped in with 16 points and seven rebounds.

Brooklyn still called Kyrie Irving's number down the stretch and he sealed the game with a step-back dagger on a corner 3-pointer in the fourth quarter. He finished with 22 points on the night.

James Harden continued his ridiculous run at the charity stripe, tallying 36 points and eight rebounds while sinking 14 free throws. But he struggled from deep and made only two of his 16 long-range shots.

Houston has made a name for itself by shooting a large number of threes, but shooting at a 25 percent clip against a Brooklyn team that converted 59.4 percent from downtown didn't help their chances.

The Rockets dropped to 3-2 in the western conference, while the Nets improved to 2-3 in season 2019-20.

Kemba makes himself at home in the Garden

Kemba Walker scored 33 points in the Celtics' 104-102 win over the Knicks at TD Garden.

Russell Westbrook totalled 27 points, eight assists, seven rebounds, and four steals against Brooklyn.

Andre Drummond tallied 25 points and 24 rebounds as the Pistons fell to the Bulls 112-106.

Lopez and Garland wayward

Brook Lopez went 1-of-7 from the field and scored three points in the Bucks' 123-91 rout of the Magic.

Cleveland's Darius Garland missed all 10 of his shots and notched just two points in his team's 102-95 loss to the Pacers.

Tatum ices the game for the Celtics

Jayson Tatum scored 24 points and nailed the decisive basket as the Celtics snuck past the Knicks.

 

 

76ers at Blazers

Philadelphia is undefeated but they face a talented Portland team without Joel Embiid who is serving a two-game suspension for a skirmish with Minnesota's Karl-Anthony Towns. How will the 76ers respond without their dominant post presence and defensive stud down low? Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum certainly won't make things easy for the Eastern Conference powerhouse.

James Harden almost scored 60 points as the Houston Rockets won a high-scoring thriller against the Washington Wizards, while the Golden State Warriors' season went from bad to worse after Stephen Curry broke his hand.

Harden posted 59 points to lead the Rockets to a stunning 159-158 victory over the Wizards in NBA action on Wednesday.

MVP in 2017-18, Harden was 18-of-32 shooting while going 17 of 18 from the free-throw line as the Rockets registered a franchise-record score.

Rockets team-mate Russell Westbrook had another triple-double, scoring 17 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds.

Wizards star Bradley Beal had 46 points of his own on 14-of-20 shooting, including seven of 12 from beyond the three-point line.

Curry, meanwhile, suffered a broken left hand in Golden State's 121-110 loss to the Phoenix Suns midweek.

The Warriors star landed heavily on his wrist in the third quarter and did not return as Golden State lost for the first time in four games.

It is another huge blow for the Warriors, who are already without injured All-Star Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant – who left for the Brooklyn Nets.

As for the Los Angeles Clippers, they lost 110-96 to the Utah Jazz after resting superstar Kawhi Leonard.

 

Siakam soars as Raptors roar

Pascal Siakam recorded 30 points for defending champions the Toronto Raptors, who topped the Detroit Pistons 125-113. Andre Drummond had 21 points and 22 rebounds in a losing effort.

Tristan Thompson posted 23 points and 10 rebounds in the Cleveland Cavaliers' 117-111 win over the Chicago Bulls.

Nikola Vucevic had 21 points and 13 rebounds as the Orlando Magic were 95-83 winners against the New York Knicks.

Kemba Walker put up 32 points, six rebounds and six assists as the Boston Celtics overcame a 19-point deficit to beat the Milwaukee Bucks 116-105.

 

Wiggins highlights Timberwolves' woes

Andrew Wiggins had decent offensive numbers with 19 points, but the Minnesota Timberwolves were minus-27 with him on the floor in a 117-95 loss to the unbeaten Philadelphia 76ers.

 

Sabonis sizzles

Domantas Sabonis had 29 points and a nifty move to the basket in the Indiana Pacers' 118-108 win over the Nets.

 

Wednesday's results

Philadelphia 76ers 117-95 Minnesota Timberwolves
Cleveland Cavaliers 117-111 Chicago Bulls
Orlando Magic 95-83 New York Knicks
Toronto Raptors 125-113 Detroit Pistons
Boston Celtics 116-105 Milwaukee Bucks
Indiana Pacers 118-108 Brooklyn Nets
Portland Trail Blazers 102-99 Oklahoma City Thunder
Houston Rockets 159-158 Washington Wizards
Utah Jazz 110-96 Los Angeles Clippers
Charlotte Hornets 118-111 Sacramento Kings
Phoenix Suns 121-110 Golden State Warriors

 

Nuggets at Pelicans

The New Orleans Pelicans are still trying to get their first win of the season and they welcome a talented and deep Denver Nuggets team for the late game on Thursday.

Russell Westbrook was delighted to pass Magic Johnson on the NBA's all-time triple-doubles list but insisted he does not take a place in history for granted.

Houston Rockets star Westbrook posted 28 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds in a 126-123 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday.

The 2017 MVP's latest show-stopping efforts took him to outright second on the triple-doubles list on 139, now trailing only Oscar Robertson (181).

"It's a blessing. I give nothing but thanks to the man above for allowing me to be able to go out and play and compete," Westbrook said. "It's something I never, ever take for granted.

"I know, nowadays, getting triple-doubles seems like normal, but I take pride.

"It takes a lot of energy, a lot of sacrifice, a lot of things I do off the floor to put myself out there to compete every single night and play at a high level.

"For me, that's a great accomplishment. Growing up, I was never thinking I'd be playing in the NBA. Now, to be in the history books is a blessing for me and something I don't ever take for granted."

Asked if he had heard from Johnson, Westbrook replied with a smile: "No, no, no - not yet. I'm pretty sure now, maybe..."

The 30-year-old added he rarely gets the opportunity to reflect on his career achievements but hoped to be able to this time before returning to action against former team the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday.

"It's crazy, man. For me, it's just surreal," Westbrook said. "Everything happens so quickly. It happened tonight, I broke the record, 'Oh, s***'. Now I get ready for the next one.

"In my mind, I never get the opportunity to sit back and think about some of the things that I've done.

"Tonight will be one of those where I take a second to be thankful and grateful to be able to go and compete and do something like that."

Johnson posted on Twitter: "Congratulations to Russell Westbrook for passing me and having the 2nd-most triple-doubles in NBA history!"

The Los Angeles Clippers suffered their first defeat of the NBA season after losing 130-122 to the Phoenix Suns.

Kawhi Leonard had led the Clippers to back-to-back wins to start the campaign, however, they went down to the Suns on Saturday.

Devin Booker scored 30 points and Kelly Oubre Jr. added 20 as the Suns snapped a 12-game losing streak to the Clippers.

Leonard put up 27 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds for the visiting Clippers in Phoenix.

The Miami Heat spoiled the Milwaukee Bucks' home opener after prevailing 131-126 in overtime.

Giannis Antetokounmpo's Bucks held a 21-point lead in the third quarter but still lost to the rallying Heat, who were led by Goran Dragic's 25 points off the bench.

Reigning MVP Antetokounmpo finished with 29 points, 17 rebounds and nine assists to go with eight turnovers before fouling out late in overtime.

 

Westbrook surpasses Magic

Houston Rockets star Russell Westbrook passed Magic Johnson for second place on the NBA's all-time triple-doubles list with his 139th. Westbrook had 28 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds in the 126-123 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.

Trae Young might not have won Rookie of the Year last season, but he might be the NBA's MVP through two games (take that for what you will). The Atlanta Hawks guard scored 39 points while adding nine assists and seven rebounds in a 103-99 win over the Orlando Magic.

Kemba Walker scored 32 points on 11-of-17 shooting in the Boston Celtics' 118-95 victory against the New York Knicks.

 

Osman underwhelms despite Cavs win

Cedi Osman's four-year extension with the Cavaliers netted Cleveland one point and one rebound in 28 minutes in a 110-99 win over the Indiana Pacers.

 

DeRozan dazzles

DeMar DeRozan produced a nice layup through traffic to seal the deal for the San Antonio Spurs with five seconds remaining in a 124-122 win over the Washington Wizards.

Saturday's results

Miami Heat 131-126 Milwaukee Bucks
Philadelphia 76ers 117-111 Detroit Pistons
Atlanta Hawks 103-99 Orlando Magic
Boston Celtics 118-95 New York Knicks
Houston Rockets 126-123 New Orleans Pelicans
Toronto Raptors 108-84 Chicago Bulls
Cleveland Cavaliers 110-99 Indiana Pacers
San Antonio Spurs 124-122 Washington Wizards
Utah Jazz 113-81 Sacramento Kings
Phoenix Suns 130-122 Los Angeles Clippers

 

Trail Blazers at Mavericks

The Kristaps Porzingis era is off to a great start in Dallas as the Mavericks are unbeaten through two games. But Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard has come out strong, too, and he presents a very interesting backcourt matchup opposite Luka Doncic.

Houston Rockets star Russell Westbrook surpassed Magic Johnson on the NBA's all-time triple-doubles list.

Westbrook posted his 139th career triple-double on Saturday to move into second position, leapfrogging Los Angeles Lakers great Johnson.

An eight-time All-Star and 2017 MVP, Westbrook posted 28 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds as the Rockets beat the New Orleans Pelicans 126-123.

Westbrook now trails only Oscar Robertson (181) on that list as he eyes more history.

Giannis Antetokounmpo described his Milwaukee Bucks team-mates as "amazing" for closing out a 117-111 victory over the Houston Rockets after he fouled out on Thursday.

Reigning MVP Antetokounmpo picked up his sixth foul when the Bucks were leading by six points with five minutes and 18 seconds remaining in their first NBA game of 2019-20 at Toyota Center.

The Greek helped Milwaukee overturn a 16-point half-time deficit by posting 30 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists, making him the first player since Oscar Robertson in 1966 to post a 30-point triple-double in a season opener.

Antetokounmpo feels the Bucks took a significant step forward by holding on for the win in his enforced absence.

"I was p***** [to foul out], I'm not gonna lie," he said. "Obviously, a stupid sixth foul - I got under [Clint] Capela. I could have avoided it, but it's an opener and you're so excited. But as a basketball player you have to control your excitement.

"They did an amazing job [to hold on for the win]. Moved the ball, knocked down shots. Brook [Lopez] executed from the post, knocked down shots and made the right plays, so they did an amazing job.

"It feels amazing. Being down 16 and able to come back and nobody was complaining, everyone was focused on the game - at no point did it feel like we gave up. We played harder, defended harder, executed harder and it's game number one. This can only make you better.

"The chemistry is amazing. We need to keep working on that, and you're going to find adversities throughout the season. But at the end of the day, you've got to face moments like this because moments like this make you better."

Russell Westbrook poured in 24 points to go with 16 rebounds, seven assists and two steals on his Rockets debut, while James Harden had 19 points and 14 assists.

Seven-time All-Star Harden shouldered the blame for the loss and hopes to rediscover his usual "swagger" quickly.

"I didn't play well offensively the entire night. Give them credit, they came back and played well that second half but this one is on me. I wasn't as aggressive enough and that's what it was," said Harden.

"It's the first game of the season so I've got to get my rhythm as well. I wish I would just go out there and make every shot, have my swagger like I will be. It will come."

Westbrook added: "I've got to do a better job of helping [Harden] out. Especially when teams we're playing are guarding him like that. That's why I'm here; to make a better career for him, so he doesn't have to create and do everything like he's accustomed to doing.

"When that happens, we've got to do a better job of figuring it out, [we] kind of waited too late to do that."

The Golden State Warriors' first NBA game at Chase Center ended in defeat as the Kawhi Leonard-led Los Angeles Clippers stayed unbeaten.

After 47 years at Oracle Arena in Oakland, the Warriors relocated to neighbouring San Francisco in the offseason.

But their first competitive game in San Francisco did not go according to plan following Thursday's 141-122 loss to the Clippers.

Even without Paul George, the Clippers looked great on both sides of the court as Leonard, Lou Williams and Patrick Patterson all finished with 20 or more points to preserve Los Angeles' perfect start after two games.

Stephen Curry and D'Angelo Russell were good for the Warriors, but Russell did not do much after scoring the Warriors' first 10 points and Curry struggled shooting the ball throughout the game, going two of 11 from three-point range.

Reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, meanwhile, became the first player in Milwaukee Bucks history to record a triple-double in a season opener.

Antetokounmpo – the first player since Oscar Robertson in 1966 with a 30-point triple-double in a season opener – finished with 30 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists as the Bucks overcame a 16-point half-time deficit to beat the Houston Rockets 117-111.

Every single Milwaukee starter finished in double digits in scoring, while Russell Westbrook led the Rockets with 24 points and 16 rebounds in his Houston debut. 

 

Young stars as Hawks fly high

Trae Young had 38 points, nine assists and seven rebounds in the Atlanta Hawks' 117-100 win over the Detroit Pistons.

 

Reddish and Harden struggle

Cam Reddish's rookie year is off to a tough shooting start. He scored one point on 0-of-six shooting, including 0 of five from three-point range. He did have seven rebounds, though.

James Harden scored 19 points, but the Rockets star went two-of-13 shooting in the loss to the Bucks.

 

Harden and Westbrook reunite

Harden and Westbrook look like they will at least be fun together in Houston.

 

Thursday's results

Atlanta Hawks 117-100 Detroit Pistons
Milwaukee Bucks 117-111 Houston Rockets
Los Angeles Clippers 141-122 Golden State Warriors

 

Jazz at Lakers

Two teams that added big pieces this offseason face off in Los Angeles on Friday. Mike Conley joins Donovan Mitchell in the Utah Jazz's backcourt, while Anthony Davis teams up with LeBron James and the Lakers. And that is not even the half of it as Danny Green, Bojan Bogdanovic (who may be hurt), Quinn Cook and Dwight Howard are all finding their way with new teams. 

Russell Westbrook and James Harden will be team-mates once again in this NBA season, and the Houston Rockets pair have certainly evolved since their days together at the Oklahoma City Thunder.

It has been seven years since Westbrook and Harden wore the same NBA uniform, a series-deciding Game 5 loss to the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals when the duo each scored 19 points.

Harden's contribution came from the bench - as it often did that season - and he soon moved to Houston to become the main man, a distinction he will be expected to keep despite Westbrook's arrival this offseason.

Here, using Stats Perform data, we look at how productive Westbrook and Harden were together in OKC, and how their roles have changed since.

 

A PRODUCTIVE PARTNERSHIP

In their final year together with the Thunder in 2011-12, Westbrook had the best season of his career in terms of field goal percentage (45.7 per cent), while Harden had what remains his best campaign in terms of both field goal percentage (49.1 per cent) and three-pointers made (39 per cent).

Ten-time All-Star Kevin Durant was on the roster then too, of course, but a deeper dive into the numbers shows just how much better offensively the Thunder were in that campaign when Westbrook and Harden shared the floor.

Per 100 possessions, they averaged more points (113.8 to 102.8), more offensive rebounds (13.2 to 10.2), more assists (19.4 to 19.2) and scored more points off fast breaks (17.7 to 16.0).

Perhaps unsurprisingly, there was a drop-off defensively when Westbrook and Harden were on court together, as OKC conceded more points on average per 100 possessions (103.4 to 97.8).

HARDEN: FROM SIXTH MAN TO MAIN MAN

In the 2011-12 season, Harden's last with the Thunder, 'The Beard' was voted the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year for his performances off the bench, when he averaged 16.8 points per game.

That first year in Houston, Harden averaged a whopping 25.9 points per game – the increase of 9.1 representing the fourth-largest jump of all time among players who switched teams after averaging at least 15 points per game in the previous season.

Moreover, among all Sixth Man of the Year winners, Harden has the five highest scoring seasons of all time - including last term, when he poured in 2,818 points in 78 games at a staggering average of 36.1.

ALL-ROUND RUSS

It was after Durant's departure for the Golden State Warriors in 2016 when Westbrook ascended from second fiddle to superstar.

Westbrook's numbers greatly improved in his first year without Harden and Durant. He averaged 31.6 points per game (up from 23.5 in the previous season), 10.7 rebounds per game (up from 7.8 in the previous season) and 10.4 assists per game (the same as the previous season).

That season - when Westbrook was named the league's MVP - he averaged a triple-double, a feat he also achieved in the following two campaigns, despite Paul George's presence on the Thunder's roster between 2017 and 2019.

Last season, Westbrook only tried 28.7 shots per 100 possessions when George was out, down from 35 attempts in 2017-18.

Russell Westbrook "will be alright" after his injury scare for the Houston Rockets, while coach Mike D'Antoni was stunned by another sublime performance from James Harden.

Harden had 44 points, seven assists, five rebounds and five steals in 35 minutes as the Rockets finished their preseason campaign with a 144-133 road win over the Miami Heat.

Point guard Westbrook left Friday's game in the fourth quarter in visible pain and ran directly into the tunnel after hurting his hand, while Austin Rivers suffered with a shoulder problem.

D'Antoni explained Westbrook, who scored 16 points, had suffered a finger dislocation just two days after the same thing happened in Wednesday's game with the San Antonio Spurs, which had meant he played this one with a bandage.

The Rockets begin the NBA season at home against the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday.

"With Russ it was just his fingers got dislocated," said D'Antoni. "Pop them back into place and then go play, he'll be alright.

"Both of them told me they were OK, so we'll take that. Austin said he was OK, I don't know exactly what that means but it is up in his [shoulder] – he also strained that in Washington last year."

The Rockets ended the preseason with a 4-2 record and hopes for a championship challenge are high after former Oklahoma City Thunder team-mates Harden and Westbrook were reunited in the offseason.

D'Antoni was lost for words by Harden's display against the Heat. He connected with 8-of-16 three-pointers and played like it was game seven of the NBA Finals.

"That's the way he's wired - he loves to play," added D'Antoni. "I couldn't take him out in the fourth quarter if I wanted to. He wanted to play and he'd play 48 minutes if he could.  

"James was ridiculous. He gets better every time. I don't know what his ceiling is but he seems to be the most improved player of the year for me, he's ridiculous."

Harden, meanwhile, was eager to get the regular season started after being asked for his initial feelings about how playing with Westbrook again had been.

"Great," the 2018 MVP said. "Now preseason is over with and we get to the real thing. It's gonna be a long season of just trying to communicate and be on the same page, not only me and Russ - our entire team. 

"This preseason was a good test for us, now we're excited for the real challenge."

Asked if this was the most powerful Rockets team since he had been with the franchise, Harden added: "Yeah, I think so."

Russell Westbrook had mixed feelings after his Houston Rockets debut ended in defeat to the Toronto Raptors in Tokyo.

Lining up alongside James Harden for the first time since the two former NBA MVPs were reunited with his offseason trade, Westbrook scored 13 points, adding six assists, two rebounds and a steal in a 21-minute outing.

Harden impressed with a game-high 34 points, but the Rockets went down 134-129 in Tuesday's preseason game. The two teams will do it all again in Japan's capital on Thursday.

"It wasn't bad - unfortunately we didn't win and that's the main goal," Westbrook said. 

"But it was good to get on the floor for the first time, get up and down, try to find a rhythm. We've got a lot of work to do, including myself getting in better shape and game condition, so we'll get it together.

"I'd love to play here for the Olympics, I think its an unbelievable place to be. I love Tokyo, the fans here and the atmosphere. 

"But our main focus now is on the season and finishing the season like we want to with the championship trophy."

Harden's 27-minute performance, in which he connected with 4-of-7 three-pointers, came as he continues to stress the importance of intensity in the Rockets' preseason games.

"We've been doing an unbelievable job in practice of pushing ourselves," said Harden, who had scored 37 against the Los Angeles Clippers last time out.

"Even in these preseason games we are trying to push it past our limits. That way, when the season starts in a few weeks, we'll be ready.

"I'm still working on my conditioning. I know for myself and Russ, who was excited for his first game out there, conditioning isn't where we want it to be, so that's what these games are for. 

"We are focusing on our team and getting better - we have a great opportunity ahead of us and we're focused every single day. We're glad to see Russ out there on the basketball court."

Of the Tokyo crowd, Harden added: "It was amazing. They got an opportunity to see what NBA basketball is about, what Rockets basketball is about. They brought the energy.

"They were excited from the beginning of the game. They made us want to go out there and put on a show, so hopefully it can be that same kind of atmosphere on Thursday."

Pascal Siakam had 24 points for the Raptors, who were playing their first preseason game.

While Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant faced the media in Brooklyn on Friday, a different tandem – James Harden and Russell Westbrook – detailed how they will attack the 2019-20 season with the Houston Rockets.

Houston acquired Westbrook this offseason in a trade with the Thunder, sending Chris Paul and two first-round picks to Oklahoma City while agreeing to swap two additional first-round picks.

The deal doubled-down the expectations placed on the Rockets to reach the NBA Finals, especially now that their perennial roadblock – the Golden State Warriors – will enter the year without Durant and Klay Thompson (torn ACL).

"If we don't win, I'll take all the blame for it," Harden told reporters at Rockets media day on Friday.

"That's just what the territory comes with. That's why you have to go out there and win. That's why we work extremely hard in the offseason to bring players in and whatever is necessary to give us the best chance to win. I know what's at stake."

Houston were bounced out of the playoffs last season by Golden State in the conference semifinals. The year prior, the Warriors spoiled Harden's MVP season by beating the Rockets in seven games in the Western Conference Finals.

The frustration that came with always looking up at Golden State led to Daryl Morey's move to trade for Westbrook, another former MVP who appeared to be plateauing in OKC even after the addition of Paul George.

Now with the reunion of Harden and Westbrook, who played alongside one another in the 2012 Finals with the Thunder, the two have to figure out how to co-exist once again.

Head coach Mike D'Antoni said there will be things to figure out once the season starts and added one or the other of the playmakers will be on the court at all times as he attempts to stagger their minutes.

"It's going to be scary," Westbrook said of a lineup that features both him and Harden. "That's all I can tell you. It's going to be scary. Not for us."

Harden is accustomed to carrying the burden for a team throughout the season as he led the NBA in usage percentage in 2018-19 by a large margin. However, he is not looking to Westbrook for help. Instead, he wants to unleash Westbrook by giving him the type of playing partner he has not had since Durant left OKC in 2016.

"I know from him having an entire organisation for 11 years that he had to play for and now he can come to an entire different chapter in his life to just go out there and play without having to stress and worry about the pressure of carrying an entire organisation," Harden said.

But, of course, everyone understands there will be games where either Harden or Westbrook takes over.

"If Russ got it going and has one of those games that we've all seen before, guess what I'm going to do? Sit back and watch the show and vice-versa," Harden said.

Westbrook added: "We have a friendship first outside of basketball. I think we communicate and understand each other. In the game, it's going to be easy. There will be times when I'm upset or he's upset, but we're going to sit there and let him know what he's doing right and vice-versa. I think that's the best way to complement each other."

James Harden wants to be unforgettable as he eyes multiple NBA championships and looks forward to joining forces with new Houston Rockets team-mate Russell Westbrook.

Harden has been one of the best players in the NBA since he joined the Rockets, averaging 29 or more points per game in each of the last four seasons.

The Rockets star was also named MVP in 2017-18, though seven-time All-Star Harden is yet to win a championship.

"I still haven't accomplished half of what I want to accomplish," Harden told Bleacher Report. "Like, multiple championships.

"I want to be one of those basketball players that you won't forget. And obviously, we all remember the Kobes [Kobe Bryant] and the Jordans [Michael Jordan] and the D-Wades [Dwyane Wade] and all those guys.

"I want to be in that same conversation, obviously, in championships and all that good stuff, and best shooting guards to ever play the game."

Harden's hopes of winning a title have been boosted by the arrival of Westbrook, who he played alongside during his time with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Rockets retooled their roster this offseason when they sent Chris Paul, along with multiple draft picks, to the Thunder in exchange for All-Star and former MVP Westbrook.

The deal reunited Westbrook and Harden, who previously played together in Oklahoma City from 2009-12. 

"[There will be] a lot of ups and downs," Harden added. "But I'm more excited to go into war, postseason, with somebody that is, like, a dog. Somebody that's a killer, for real."

Harden believes the Rockets – who reached the Western Conference semi-finals last season – have a chance to compete for a title, especially with the addition of Westbrook. 

"Of course it [not having a championship] matters to me," Harden said. "I've been thinking about it maybe the last year-and-a-half, two years. I'm on the right path. You can't rush winning a title. Some win it early, some win it late. It's perfect timing.

"The time is going to happen when the time happens. I've just got to be patient, continue to work my butt off, continue to be a great leader, great team-mate, and just try to bring as much talent and as much guys that have that same drive that I have. I think we all have it right now."

Russell Westbrook acknowledged the need for "sacrifice" as he and James Harden try to lead the Houston Rockets to an NBA championship.

Westbrook was acquired by the Rockets in a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder earlier this month, which included future draft picks, pick swaps and Chris Paul leaving Houston.

The 2017 MVP, Westbrook averaged a triple-double for the third consecutive season in 2018-19, but he admits the path to success with a new team might require a different approach. Especially playing alongside his long-time friend and former Thunder team-mate Harden, who was the league's most valuable player in 2018.

Speaking during his introductory news conference on Friday, Westbrook told reporters: "Me and James have been friends for many, many years, since I was 10 actually.

"To be able to win something, you have to be able to sacrifice some parts of your game and we both understand that," Westbrook continued. "We both understand that we have one common goal and that's to win a championship.

"I don't have to touch the ball to impact the game... I can do other things on the floor to make sure we have a better chance of winning."

Westbrook and Harden both like to have the ball a lot. The duo are the only players in NBA history to exceed 40.0 in usage percentage, and now they will have to share a backcourt. They last played together in 2012-13, before Harden was traded to the Rockets.

Since then, both have been named MVP. Regardless, Westbrook is confident the two will can work well together in Houston.

"We play great off the ball with each other. We've done it in OKC," Westbrook said.

Westbrook elaborated on what else he brings to the table, besides orchestrating an offense.

"I think I can be able to help a lot on the rebounding end and switching and finding a way to get into the passing lanes," the 30-year-old added. "Maybe throw a few lobs to James if he's still got it. Figuring out a way to be able to just impact and use my athleticism."

He also addressed his health, as he underwent a procedure on his right knee in May.

"I'll be ready to go by training camp," Westbrook said. "I'm doing great. Taking my time. Resting as much as I can, because we're gon' go after it at the start of the season and I'll be ready to go."

All in all, Westbrook appears like he's prepared for the next chapter.

"I think it's a great opportunity to be able to bring a championship here to Houston," he said. "An opportunity to do great things, have some fun and I'm excited for it."

James Harden says he will not need to make any changes for new team-mate Russell Westbrook when the pair are reunited at the Houston Rockets.

The Rockets completed a blockbuster trade for Westbrook this week, giving the Rockets two of the last three NBA MVPs on their roster.

Harden played with the new arrival at the Oklahoma City Thunder between 2009 and 2012 and is already confident about how their rekindled partnership will work out in a loaded Western Conference.

So much so, he insists nothing will need to change in his game to make the Rockets successful after Westbrook's move.

"None. None. None," he told reporters at an Adidas and James Harden ProCamp event when asked what adjustments would be needed.

"We played with each other in the NBA and the Olympics and all that. When you have talent like that, it works itself out. You communicate. You go out there and compete possession by possession. 

"You figure things out throughout the course of the season. That's just what it is. When you have talent, you have guys with IQ, you have guys willing to sacrifice, it always works itself out.

"It's that trust factor. I trust him; he trusts me. With the group that we already have and the things we already accomplished, it should be an easy transition for him to be incorporated right in, and things are going to go."

Chris Paul, whose relationship with Harden reportedly soured last season, two protected first-round draft selections and two pick swaps were sent to the Thunder to secure Westbrook's arrival.

"I'm excited for this opportunity," added Harden. "It's a new chapter, but I know he's excited. 

"He's been in Oklahoma City for 11 years so it's a new chapter for him. We welcome him with open arms. It's going to work.

"That's my boy right there, since I was like 10 or 11 years old. Obviously, we were team-mates for years. Now, we're at different stages of our careers. I hear a lot of negative things, 'You can't, he can't, they can't'. But we'll figure it out."

The Rockets lost out in six games to the Golden State Warriors in the second round of the playoffs last season, having gone 53-29 to claim the fourth seed in the West.

Page 1 of 2
© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.