James Harden and Kevin Durant guided the Brooklyn Nets past the Milwaukee Bucks, while the Los Angeles Lakers' winning run was ended.

The Nets extended their winning streak to four with a 125-123 victory over the Bucks on Monday.

It was their second win in as many games since Harden joined in a trade from the Houston Rockets last week.

The eight-time All-Star had a double-double of 34 points and 12 assists, while Durant finished with 30 points against the Bucks.

Durant hit a clutch three-pointer with 36.8 seconds remaining to lift the Nets to 9-6.

Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo had 34 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists.

After five straight wins, the Lakers went down to the Golden State Warriors 115-113.

Warriors star Stephen Curry had 26 points, while Dennis Schroder top-scored for the Lakers with 25.

LeBron James (19 points) missed a three-pointer on the buzzer for the Lakers, who had Anthony Davis post a double-double of 17 points and 17 rebounds.

 

Awesome Adebayo, Oladipo makes Rockets debut

Bam Adebayo posted 28 points and 11 rebounds to guide the Miami Heat past the struggling Detroit Pistons 113-107.

Victor Oladipo arrived at the Rockets following Harden's exit, and he had 32 points and nine assists on debut, but it came in a 125-120 loss to the Chicago Bulls.

DeMar DeRozan (20 points and 11 assists) led an even team effort in the San Antonio Spurs' 125-104 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers. DeRozan (20), LaMarcus Aldridge (22), Patty Mills (21) and Rudy Gay (21) became the first group of four Spurs team-mates to each score 20-plus points in a game since 2010.

A double-double from Trae Young (20 points and 13 assists) helped the Atlanta Hawks past the Minnesota Timberwolves 108-97.

 

Doncic below his best

Luka Doncic described himself as "selfish" despite a triple-double in a Dallas Mavericks loss to the Bulls on Sunday, and he was below his best a day later. He went four-of-11 from the field for just 15 points in 34 minutes in a 116-93 humbling at the hands of the Toronto Raptors.

 

Clutch KD

Durant hit the crucial three-pointer to lift the Nets to their victory.

Monday's results

New York Knicks 91-84 Orlando Magic
Atlanta Hawks 108-97 Minnesota Timberwolves
San Antonio Spurs 125-104 Portland Trail Blazers
Memphis Grizzlies 108-104 Phoenix Suns
Brooklyn Nets 125-123 Milwaukee Bucks
Toronto Raptors 116-93 Dallas Mavericks
Miami Heat 113-107 Detroit Pistons
Chicago Bulls 125-120 Houston Rockets
Golden State Warriors 115-113 Los Angeles Lakers

 

Thunder at Nuggets

Nikola Jokic (averaging 25 points, 11.4 rebounds and 10.3 assists this season) and the Denver Nuggets (6-7) take on the Oklahoma City Thunder (6-6) in one of two games scheduled for Tuesday.

Rafael Stone insisted James Harden's comments after two losses to the Los Angeles Lakers did not impact the Houston Rockets' trade plans.

Harden was traded to the Brooklyn Nets days after saying he had done everything he could in Houston.

After back-to-back losses to the Lakers, the eight-time All-Star also said: "This situation is crazy. It's something that I don't think can be fixed."

But Stone said Harden's comments, which drew criticism from team-mates John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins, were irrelevant to the Rockets' plans.

"They did not affect me at all. In a trade there are multiple parties so I have no idea if it affected other teams," Stone told a news conference on Sunday.

"But I can guarantee you it did not affect us."

The Rockets acquired Victor Oladipo from the Pacers, sending former Nets guard Caris LeVert to Indiana.

As part of the Nets trade that involved the Cleveland Cavaliers, Houston also brought in Rodions Kurucs and Dante Exum, plus four first-round picks, to go with four first-round pick swaps.

Stone is happy with the deal the Rockets ended up with as he lauded two-time All-Star Oladipo.

"I don't think it's appropriate to talk about the other deals," Stone said.

"I would say what is super exciting about this deal is it gives us flexibility and in the NBA, picks, especially high picks, are the best currency. Everybody likes them, everybody values them, so that was great organisationally, it gave us flexibility to do different types of deals as they come up this year, next year, whatever.

"We were able to get Victor Oladipo as part of it along with Rodi and Dante, but Victor is a guy we're really excited about. I think he's excited to be here and we think he's very talented so that was not insignificant from our perspective."

The Rockets hold a 4-7 record this season and are 14th in the Western Conference.

On many a Sunday, I realize that people have looked at the stories they've seen throughout the week with different lenses. I have my own personal take on some of these trending issues and I will share them with you. Welcome to #INCASEYOUMISSEDIT the 2021 edition with Mariah.

  1. Windies men- Nothing to lose so much to gain!

It is no secret that as the West Indies get set to face Bangladesh on January 20, in their first One-Day International, the home side is the overwhelming favourite, especially because of their track record of winning at home. The Windies enter against a backdrop comprising of several senior players opting out, Hayden Walsh Jr getting Covid-19 mere days before the first ODI, eight players making their ODI debut and the captain, Jason Mohammed, who last played for the Windies in 2018. Despite all these factors, they walk into this series with nothing to lose and so much to gain.

It is easy to point out the lack of experience in the Windies team. Simply put, as I mentioned before, eight of the players suiting up will be making their debuts. In the ODI setup, Rovman Powell is the most experienced having played 34 matches with the skipper Jason Mohammed ranked second with 28. While this is enough to say the Windies team is inexperienced we must also note that Bangladesh also has three uncapped players - off-spinner Mahadi Hasan and pacers Shorful Islam and Hasan Mahmud.

Similarly, it is natural to feel uneasy that ODI skipper Jason Mohammed has been out of Windies cricket since 2018. However, we cannot forget that Mohammed previously captained the Windies in an ODI against England in 2017 and in three T20Is during their 2018 Pakistan tour.

It was during a similar situation when key players refused to play and CWI thrust Mohammed to the helm.

All things considered, it is not always a disadvantage to be the underdogs if the team is physically and mentally ready. In World-Cup-winning captain Clive Lloyd’s open letter to the team, he highlighted that he made his debut on short notice against India 1966. He got his call up just hours before the game and went on to score 82 and 78. 

And, in that is the bigger picture. A ticket to the World Cup awaits any player who seizes this moment. Wicketkeeper/batsman Joshua Da Silva impressed on his Test debut in New Zealand where he scored an impressive half-century.

Batsman Kjorn Ottley is another player who could force his way into the first team. In 2019, he played for Barbados in the 50-over competition and scored 325 runs in the nine innings at an average of 54.16.  All-rounder Akeal Hosein will be eager to transfer his CPL form into this format of the game.

The 27-year-old was the leading wicket-taker in T&T’s 2020 first-class season with a total of 36 wickets at an average of 20.61. 

 

  1. Brooklyn Nets Success: One Word- Sacrifice.

News of James Harden leaving the Houston Rockets and joining the Brooklyn Nets did not sit very well with me as a Rockets supporter. It took me a few days to process his exit. However, as Harden’s biggest supporter and critic I understand the reason for the move. The three-time NBA scoring champion is desperate to win a Championship and he is not getting younger. However, if the Nets are to be successful it comes down to a key factor - sacrifice.

 The “Big Three” of James Harden, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant can only work well if they share the ball. Over the last 10 seasons, all three players have ranked in the top 10 in the highest usage rate in clutch time. Harden described it best while addressing the media. 

“When it comes to facilitating it depends on the flow of the game. Some nights I’ll be a facilitator. Some nights I might get it going and score the ball at a high clip. That is the beauty of being versatile and being able to do more than one thing. Same with Kevin and same with Kyrie. Every night is going to be different.”

 Each of the three players will be required to sacrifice whatever is going on behind the scenes of their lives if they are to win a championship. Irving was fined USD$50,000 for breaching the NBA Covid-19 protocols after a video surfaced on social media that showed him at a birthday party with no mask.

He also made an appearance at a Zoom fundraiser for a progressive political candidate half-hour before the tipoff of a Nets game.  He needs to show up mentally and physically.  Harden is out of shape and will have to avoid getting into Covid-19 trouble again. Additionally, it will be in the team’s best interest if KD stays injury free and avoids getting the virus again.

 In order for the Nets to get the best of the Harden trade all egos have to be put aside and the players need to allow rookie head coach Steve Nash and assistant coach Michael  D'Antoni to do their jobs without interference.

A positive to draw from this is Harden has worked well with D’Antoni at the Rockets and even cited his move had a lot to do with the influence of the assistant coach.

Kevin Durant, without a doubt, is a selfless player. He sacrificed his Achilles when he returned to the 2019 NBA finals too soon.  His value to the team goes without saying, however, a key element of the Nets success this season will be his acceptance of the leadership role. 

The Brooklyn Nets are championship contenders for 2021. The big question is then “Who is selfless enough to step back?” 

  

  1. Widespread vaccination and speedy rollout can ensure the Tokyo Olympics proceed.

Japanese government officials say they are committed to hosting the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo despite a recent rise in Covid-19 cases.  Reports indicate that the international Olympic Committee is working on ways to ensure that athletes are vaccinated so the event can proceed safely in July.

As of Friday, 15 January, Tokyo confirmed 2001 new infections. The number of new infections and the shortage of hospital beds are making it difficult to hospitalize coronavirus patients.  Deputy head of the Tokyo Medical Association Masataka Inakuchi has warned that the number of hospitalized coronavirus patients could rise to approximately 4600 in a week and 7000 in two weeks.

One can only hope that there will be widespread vaccination rollouts and speedy distribution in Tokyo so the Olympic Games can proceed without any further delay. 

 

 

James Harden made NBA history on his Brooklyn Nets debut after dazzling with a triple-double in the 122-115 win against the Orlando Magic.

Harden became the first player in NBA history to post a 30-point triple-double in his bow for a new team after the Nets outlasted the Magic on Saturday.

Former MVP Harden – who swapped the Houston Rockets for the Nets in a blockbuster trade on Thursday – finished with 32 points, a franchise-record 14 assists, 12 rebounds and four steals.

The eight-time All-Star also became the seventh player in NBA history with a triple-double in their team debut, joining Russell Westbrook, Elfrid Payton, Lewis Lloyd, John Shumate, Nate Thurmond and Oscar Robertson.

Reuniting with former Oklahoma City Thunder team-mate Harden, Durant led the way with a game-high 42 points as the Nets improved to 8-6 following a third consecutive win.

Durant also made franchise history for most consecutive 25-plus point games with nine.

 

Lillard inspires Blazers

Damian Lillard had a game-high 36 points as the Portland Trail Blazers topped the Atlanta Hawks 112-106. Double-doubles from Trae Young (26 points and 11 assists) and Clint Capela (25 points and 15 rebounds) were not enough for the visiting Hawks.

Shake Milton put up 28 points off the bench in the Joel Embiid-less Philadelphia 76ers' narrow 106-104 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. Ben Simmons fell just short of a triple-double after recording 11 points, 16 rebounds and nine assists.

Christian Wood scored 24 points and collected 18 rebounds as the shorthanded Rockets went down 103-91 to the San Antonio Spurs.

Derrick Rose was efficient in the Detroit Pistons' 120-100 upset of the Miami Heat. He was eight-of-12 shooting from the field, while making three of his five three-point attempts for 23 points in 21 minutes.

 

Covington struggles

While the Trail Blazers won, Robert Covington failed to get going shooting-wise after collecting 10 rebounds. He was one-of-13 from the field and just one-of-seven from beyond the arc for three points in 28 minutes.

A championship winner with the Los Angeles Lakers last season, veteran Rajon Rondo was scoreless for the Hawks. Rondo missed all three of his field-goal attempts in nine minutes of action.

 

Morant returns in style

Ja Morant sprained his ankle on December 28 but the Grizzlies star made his comeback following an eight-game absence. Morant had 17 points, including this alley-oop.

 

Saturday's results

San Antonio Spurs 103-91 Houston Rockets
Brooklyn Nets 122-115 Orlando Magic
Toronto Raptors 116-113 Charlotte Hornets
Detroit Pistons 120-100 Miami Heat
Memphis Grizzlies 106-104 Philadelphia 76ers
Portland Trail Blazers 112-106 Atlanta Hawks
Indiana Pacers-Phoenix Suns (postponed)

 

Pacers at Clippers

The Indiana Pacers (8-4) will visit the in-form Los Angeles Clippers (9-4) – who have won three straight games – on Sunday.

Stephen Curry's 35 points were not enough for the Golden State Warriors, while the Houston Rockets started the post-James Harden era with a win.

Curry was 14-of-23 from the field and five-of-11 from three-point range, but the Warriors fell to the Denver Nuggets 114-104 on Thursday.

Nuggets star Nikola Jokic dominated with a triple-double of 23 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists.

Denver had seven players in double-digits for points as they improved to 6-6 – the same record the Warriors now hold.

After trading Harden to the Brooklyn Nets, the Rockets recorded a 109-105 win over the San Antonio Spurs.

Christian Wood had a double-double of 27 points and 15 rebounds for the Rockets, who were without John Wall (knee).

 

Milton magical for Sixers, Boucher lifts Raptors

Shake Milton had 31 points off the bench in the Philadelphia 76ers' 125-108 win over the Miami Heat. He was 11-of-15 from the field and three-of-four from three-points range.

Ben Simmons notched a triple-double of 10 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds for the 76ers. Only Oscar Robertson (75 games) and Magic Johnson (190 games) have reached 30 career triple-doubles quicker than Simmons (228).

Chris Boucher had 25 points and 10 rebounds off the bench to help the Toronto Raptors beat the Charlotte Hornets 111-108.

A huge game from Domantas Sabonis (23 points and 15 rebounds) saw the Indiana Pacers past the Portland Trail Blazers 111-87.

After another four blocks and one steal, Pacers center Myles Turner reached 50 blocks and 18 steals through 12 games. He is the first player to have at least that many blocks and steals through his first 12 games of a season since David Robinson in 1992-93, as per Stats Perform.

 

Job done for 76ers despite Embiid struggles

Joel Embiid has enjoyed a superb start to the season, but the 76ers star struggled against Miami. He was three-of-eight from the field for just nine points in 23 minutes.

 

Bridges brilliance

Miles Bridges produced a huge dunk during the Hornets' loss to the Raptors. He finished with 12 points.

Thursday's results

Philadelphia 76ers 125-108 Miami Heat
Toronto Raptors 111-108 Charlotte Hornets
Houston Rockets 109-105 San Antonio Spurs
Indiana Pacers 111-87 Portland Trail Blazers
Denver Nuggets 114-104 Golden State Warriors

 

Pelicans at Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers (10-3) are riding a four-game winning streak ahead of hosting the New Orleans Pelicans (4-6) on Friday. LeBron James is averaging 24.3 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game to begin the campaign.

James Harden has been thanked by the Houston Rockets after being traded to the Brooklyn Nets.

Three-time NBA scoring champion Harden has linked up with former Oklahoma City Thunder team-mate Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn, who have gone all in on a championship run by bringing in the 2018 MVP.

The Nets gave up Jarrett Allen, Taurean Prince, Caris LeVert, Radions Kurucs, three first-round draft picks (2022, 2024 and 2026) and four first-round pick swaps (2021, 2023, 2025 and 2027) to acquire Harden.

Allen and Prince were sent to the Cleveland Cavaliers, who provided Houston with Dante Exum and a 2022 first-round pick via the Milwaukee Bucks. Brooklyn received a 2024 second-round pick from the Cavs to complete the deal.

The Rockets are expected to send LeVert and a 2023 second-round pick to the Indiana Pacers in exchange for two-time All-Star Victor Oladipo.

Harden requested a trade prior to the start of the season and following a 117-100 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday he said: "It's something that I don't think can be fixed."

The Rockets granted their franchise player his wish on Thursday and owner Tilman Fertitta praised him for his achievements in Houston.

"On behalf of the entire Rockets organisation and the City of Houston, I'd like to thank James Harden for an amazing eight-plus seasons in a Rockets uniform," said Fertitta in a statement.

"James has provided us with so many great memories as we've watched him grow from Sixth Man of the Year to a perennial All-Star and MVP.

"My family and I also want to thank James for his many off the court contributions, including generous charitable donations and multiple annual community events.

"We wish James the best of luck and will always be grateful for the memories."

Harden is second on the Rockets' all-time scoring list with 18,365 points, only trailing Hakeem Olajuwon (26,511) – a two-time NBA champion in Houston.

He averaged 29.6 points, 6.0 rebounds and 7.7 assists during his time with the Rockets.

Harden led them to the Western Conference Finals in 2014-15 and 2017-18, losing to the Golden State Warriors on both occasions.

James Harden has completed a blockbuster trade from the Houston Rockets to the Brooklyn Nets, it has been confirmed.

Widespread reports on Wednesday revealed Harden's eight-and-a-half-year stay in Houston was set to end, with the Nets agreeing a monster deal.

The Philadelphia 76ers had also been mooted as potential suitors, but Brooklyn's offer saw the Rockets receive Caris LeVert, Rodions Kurucs, three first-round draft picks (2022, 2024 and 2026) and four first-round pick swaps (2021, 2023, 2025 and 2027).

In a three-way move, Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince were sent to the Cleveland, who put in Dante Exum and a further first-round draft pick (2022 via Milwaukee) for Houston as well as a second-round draft pick (2024) for the Nets.

The Rockets are expected to swiftly move LeVert and a second-round pick on to the Indiana Pacers for Victor Oladipo, although that switch was not initially confirmed alongside the Harden deal on Thursday.

Harden had been keen on a move prior to the start of the 2020-21 season and has now got his wish, linking up with Kevin Durant - his former Oklahoma City Thunder team-mate - and Kyrie Irving.

Brooklyn general manager Sean Marks said: "Adding an All-NBA player such as James to our roster better positions our team to compete against the league's best.

"James is one of the most prolific scorers and playmakers in our game, and we are thrilled to bring his special talents to Brooklyn.

"While we are excited to welcome James and his family to the Nets, we also want to thank the players who are departing.

"Caris, Jarrett, Rodions and Taurean were instrumental to the team's success and have made an enormous impact on our organisation.

"It has been a pleasure watching them grow both as players and as people and they will always be part of our Nets family. We wish each of them and their families all the best in the future."

Although trade talks were said to be ongoing for some time, speculation ramped up in the hours after Houston's defeat to the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday.

An out-of-sorts Harden put up just 16 points in 31 minutes in the 117-100 defeat and later stormed out of a post-game news conference after saying: "I literally have done everything that I can."

Those comments prompted a backlash from team-mates John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins, who both signed in the offseason as Houston once again rebuilt.

The Rockets failed to win a championship during Harden's time despite reaching the Western Conference Finals in both 2014-15 and 2017-18, with their star guard the league's MVP in the latter season.

Harden averaged 29.6 points per game in the regular season during his time with Houston, although that dropped slightly to 28.4 in the playoffs.

His return of 24.8 points through eight games this year was his worst average over a season for the Rockets.

James Harden has completed a blockbuster trade from the Houston Rockets to the Brooklyn Nets, it has been confirmed.

The James Harden saga is set to end.

Harden will reportedly swap the Houston Rockets for the Brooklyn Nets in a mega trade, reuniting with Kevin Durant and teaming up with Kyrie Irving.

The Philadelphia 76ers were reportedly frontrunners to prise the former NBA MVP to the 'City of Brotherly Love', but Daryl Morey refused to part with franchise pillar Ben Simmons and others.

Instead, the Nets reportedly sent Caris LeVert – later traded to the Indiana Pacers as Victor Oladipo was dealt to the Rockets – and four first-round draft picks, plus four pick swaps, to Houston, in a deal also involving the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Nets also gave up Taurean Prince and talented center Jarrett Allen, who were sent to the Cavaliers, and Rockets-bound forward Rodions Kurucs.

It puts an end to a messy divorce between Harden and Rockets, after the disgruntled eight-time All-Star made no secret of his desire to depart as his frustrations boiled over post-game on Tuesday – sparking criticism from team-mates John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins.

Attention now turns to Brooklyn's new super team and how Harden fits alongside Durant and Irving – if and when he returns from his personal absence – in first-year head coach Steve Nash's quest to deliver a championship to the Nets.

Harden, who is eyeing a maiden NBA title, had called Houston home since 2012, guiding the Rockets to two Western Conference Finals and three semi-final appearances after his acquisition from the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The 31-year-old sharpshooter – team-mates with Durant at the Thunder between 2009 and 2012 – brings a high volume of three-point and free-throw attempts to Brooklyn, not to mention a dominant scorer, which the Nets have rarely had.

Harden attempted the most three-pointers in 2019-20 with 843, and he also topped the free-throw attempts category at 800. Prince topped Brooklyn's 3PA list with 431, while Spencer Dinwiddie stepped to the line on 446 occasions.

In terms of individual seasons averaging 30.0-plus points, Harden boasts three seasons, while Durant has two. The Nets? 0. John Williamson's high of 29.5 points per game in 1977-78 (in just 33 games) is the closest.

In each of the past three seasons heading into the 2020-21 campaign, Harden had earned the NBA scoring title. Durant has claimed four honours, compared to the Nets' all-time haul of 0 after Keith Van Horn finished fifth in 1998-99. Harden and Durant have won seven of the past 11 scoring crowns.

Harden brings a resume with a lot of wins and postseason experience, as did Irving and Durant as former NBA champions with the Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors respectively. The Nets have lost in the first round in back-to-back seasons, while not since 2003 have they featured in the Finals.

Harden boasts a team win percentage of 64.9 in regular-season games in which he has played, while he has amassed 128 playoff appearances.

The issue of Harden signing for the Nets is centred on possession and distribution, given he, Durant and Irving are ball carriers.

Looking at the highest usage percentage – an estimate of the percentage of team plays used by a player while he was on the floor – since 2014-15 to get an idea of how the Nets could make it work with the trio, and Harden (second, 35.3 per cent), Durant (eighth, 29.6 per cent) and Irving (ninth, 29.4 per cent) rank in the top 10. The NBA average is 20.0 per cent.

In 2019-20, points scored by Harden and points scored off his assists averaged 52.4 per game. It followed 53.9 in 2018-19, 51.3 in 2017-18 and 56 the season previous.

That marked four successive seasons with 50-plus points per game created, tying Oscar Robertson (1963-64 to 1966-67) for the longest streak in NBA history.

Harden averaged 34.3 points, 7.5 assists and 6.6 rebounds per regular-season game for the Rockets, who lost in the Western Conference semi-finals at Walt Disney World Resort, in 2019-20.

The Brooklyn Nets are reportedly acquiring Houston Rockets star James Harden in a blockbuster deal.

ESPN reported on Wednesday that eight-time All-Star Harden was joining the Nets in a deal also including the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The report said Caris LeVert, Dante Exum, Rodions Kurucs and four first-round picks – and four Nets pick swaps – were heading to Houston.

The Rockets are reportedly sending LeVert to the Indiana Pacers in exchange for Victor Oladipo.

Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince are said to be joining the Cavs.

The reported move came a day after Harden's frustrations boiled over following a loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Rockets star walked out of his post-game news conference, not before telling the media: "I love this city. I literally have done everything that I can.

"This situation is crazy. It's something that I don't think can be fixed."

Rockets duo John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins were both critical of Harden.

Led by Harden, the Rockets reached the Western Conference Finals in 2015 and 2018, while Houston have three semi-final appearances since he was acquired from the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2012.

James Harden appears increasingly likely to be traded by the Houston Rockets as his team-mates continue to vocalise opposition to the wantaway superstar.

Harden's desire to move elsewhere was evident in the offseason as both the Brooklyn Nets and the Philadelphia 76ers were heavily linked.

No deal was agreed before the campaign began, however, and the 2018 MVP has played in eight of the 3-6 Rockets' nine games so far, scoring 24.8 points per game - his worst average since joining the team in 2012.

Harden's frustrations boiled over after Houston's latest 117-100 defeat to defending champions the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday.

He stormed out of a post-game news conference after saying: "I literally have done everything that I can. This situation is crazy. It's something that I don't think can be fixed."

Those comments prompted backlash from All-Star team-mate John Wall, and Wednesday brought fresh reports of trade talks.

According to the New York Times, the Rockets want to do a deal with the Sixers for Ben Simmons and Tyrese Maxey, the rookie who has excelled amid Philadelphia's COVID-19 crisis.

The Athletic said Houston were looking for a swift resolution and could be offered all of the Nets' future first-round picks and pick swaps.

Harden's Rockets colleagues already look to be moving on, with DeMarcus Cousins facing the media on Wednesday to offer his take on the "antics".

"Obviously it's disrespectful, but everybody has their words and their opinions," Cousins said. "We feel a certain type of way about some of his actions.

"This is the nasty part of the business that kind of gets swept under the rug. You deal with these type of things when guys are in positions of being franchise players or whatever the case may be.

"It's sometimes or usually a nasty break-up. That's all part of this business.

"You know I'm going to say this: coming in every day, we want to work, get better, lead this younger group.

"Regardless of what's going on with the team, the guys that are showing up, that are committed, that are buying into the task at hand, we're going to go to war with those guys.

"Whatever those results are, we're going to live with it. We're going to leave it all on the floor and whatever happens happens."

He added: "The other 14 guys of the locker room have done nothing to him. We've only showed up to work like everybody else. It's completely unfair to the rest of the guys in the locker room."

Cousins was asked if he felt betrayed by Harden's behaviour, having only signed for the team last month, but replied he was more interested in playing with Wall.

"Me personally, I don't feel betrayed at all," he said. "My interest was to play with John Wall, to be brutally honest.

"That being said, the disrespect started way before any interview. [It was] just the approach to the training camp, showing up the way he did, the antics off the court.

"The disrespect started way before. This isn't something that all of a sudden happened last night. With that being said, this is the nasty part of the business. It is what it is."

Asked if there was any way Harden could be welcomed back into the team, Cousins said: "I don't really think that's a question for us.

"I think that's a question for him: will he ever play with us again? I don't know. Quite honestly, I don't care."

LeBron James revealed his no-look three pointer against the Houston Rockets was all about sealing a bet with Los Angeles Lakers team-mate Dennis Schroder.

During the second quarter of Tuesday's game, James caught a pass in the corner and, after a pump fake on a defender, let go with an attempt from deep.

The ball went in - but the four-time NBA Finals MVP was not watching. Instead, James had turned around after his release to engage with one particular member of the Lakers' bench.

Schroder had offered an impromptu $100 bet over whether the shot would be successful or not, leaving James needing to "look him in the eye" to confirm the wager had been placed.

"He hit me with a bet on the sideline and I took the bet while I was still shooting the ball," LeBron explained to the media after the Lakers' 117-100 win.

"A bet isn't official until you look a man in the eye, so I had to look him into the eye. I was able to win that one."

Explaining the exchange with Schroder in more detail, he added: "He said, 'Bet you won't make it'. In order to make a bet official, you've either got to have a handshake or look a man in the eye.

"He said, 'Bet it?' - I turned around, looked him in the eye and said, 'Bet it'."

James appreciates that while he was successful on this occasion, he is by no means the master of the no-look shot in the NBA, a title that belongs to another player: Stephen Curry.

"Steph [has] definitely probably done it the most in our league, and when you shoot the ball as beautiful and effortlessly and precisely as Steph does, he has the ultimate, ultra-green light to do that," James said.

"Because 10 times out of nine, it's going in for Steph."

James finished the game with 26 points, eight rebounds and five assists as the reigning champions improved to 9-3 on the season.

Joel Embiid was the headline act as the Philadelphia 76ers held on to beat the Miami Heat 137-134 in overtime, while NBA champions the Los Angeles Lakers won again.

Embiid went berserk with a 45-point, 16-rebound double-double, and a career-high five steals and four assists, in a dominant performance to help the 76ers past the shorthanded Heat in Philadelphia on Tuesday.

The three-time All-Star had 10 points in the first half before carrying the 76ers with a stellar third quarter and clutch buckets in OT against the Heat, who were missing the likes of Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic.

Embiid sent the game into overtime with a pull-up jumper 4.3 seconds from the end in the fourth period, while Dakota Mathias' only basket of the game – a go-ahead three-pointer with 26.1 seconds remaining – ensured the 76ers prevailed.

Philadelphia's Embiid became the first 76ers player with 45 points, 16 rebounds, five steals and four assists in a game in franchise history since 1973-74, while he became the first NBA player with those stats since 1983-84.

In Houston, LeBron James starred as the in-form Lakers took down the Rockets for the second time in three days, winning 117-100.

James posted a game-high 26 points, eight rebounds and five assists to help the Lakers improve to 9-3 atop the Western Conference.

Anthony Davis contributed 19 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks for the Lakers.

 

Green sets career high

Danny Green had a game to remember for the 76ers. He set a new career high with nine three-pointers against the Heat. It also tied a franchise record for the most three-pointers in a game, joining Dana Barros in 1995. The two-time NBA champion finished with 29 points and 10 rebounds.

Kevin Durant flexed his muscles again, scoring 34 points, tallying 13 assists and grabbing nine rebounds as the Brooklyn Nets trumped the Denver Nuggets 122-116. Nikola Jokic had 23 points and 11 assists for the Nuggets.

 

Harden – out of shape and out of sorts

James Harden's uninspiring start to the season continued amid ongoing trade rumours. The former MVP – looking out of shape – made just five of 16 shots from the field, while he only nailed one of his six three-point attempts for 16 points in 31 minutes.

Rudy Gobert got paid in the offseason, signing a stunning contract in excess of $200million. He was far from convincing in the Utah Jazz's 117-87 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. While the 2020 All-Star collected 10 rebounds, he finished with just four points on two-of-seven shooting from the field in 25 minutes. Gobert also had two turnovers.

 

LeBron trolls Rockets

As a four-time champion and NBA MVP, James has faith in his ability. The Lakers superstar took it to another level when he nailed a no-look three-pointer against the Rockets.

Tuesday's results

Philadelphia 76ers 137-134 Miami Heat (OT)
Brooklyn Nets 122-116 Denver Nuggets
Utah Jazz 117-87 Cleveland Cavaliers
Los Angeles Lakers 117-100 Houston Rockets
San Antonio Spurs 112-102 Oklahoma City Thunder
Indiana Pacers 104-95 Golden State Warriors
Boston Celtics-Chicago Bulls (postponed)

 

Nets at Knicks

Bragging rights will be on the line when the New York Knicks (5-6) host city rivals the Brooklyn Nets (6-6) on Wednesday.

James Harden appears to be heading for a Houston Rockets exit after his frustrations boiled over following the team's loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Harden reportedly wants to be traded to either the Philadelphia 76ers or another contender in the NBA, and the former MVP had a clear message after the Rockets were swept aside by defending champions the Lakers 117-100 on Tuesday.

The Rockets star walked out of his post-game news conference, not before telling the media: "I love this city. I literally have done everything that I can.

"This situation is crazy. It's something that I don't think can be fixed."

Led by Harden, the Rockets have reached two Western Conference Finals, while Houston have three semi-final appearances since the eight-time All-Star was acquired from the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2012.

In 2019-20, points scored by Harden and points scored off his assists averaged 52.4 per game. It followed 53.9 in 2018-19, 51.3 in 2017-18 and 56 the season previous.

That marked four successive seasons with 50-plus points per game created, tying Oscar Robertson (1963-64 to 1966-67) for the longest streak in NBA history.

Harden averaged 34.3 points, 7.5 assists and 6.6 rebounds per game for the Rockets, who lost in the Western Conference semi-finals at Walt Disney World Resort.

But Harden looks out of shape and out of sorts in 2020-21 amid links to the likes of the 76ers, Brooklyn Nets, Miami Heat and Toronto Raptors.

Harden made just five of 16 shots from the field, while he only nailed one of his six three-point attempts for 16 points in 31 minutes as the Rockets slumped to 3-6.

"We're not even close, honestly, to that team – obviously the defending champions – and all the other elite teams out there," Harden said. "I mean, you can tell the difference in these last two games.

"We're just not good enough – chemistry, talent-wise, just everything. And it was clear these last two games."

Moments after Harden left the podium, Rockets team-mate John Wall stepped up and the five-time All-Star did not hold back as he addressed the situation in Houston.

"When you have certain guys in the mix who don't want to buy in, all as one, it's going to be hard to do anything special, to do anything good as a basketball team," said Wall, who was acquired by the Rockets after Russell Westbrook was traded to the Washington Wizards.

Wall added: "We can't dwell down on it because it's only been nine games. Come on man, you want to jump off a cliff after nine games. It's a lot of basketball still to be played."

Asked about his partnership with Harden on the court, Wall said: "I think it's been a little rocky. Can't lie about that. I don't think it's been the best it could be, to be honest. That's all I really could say."

These are uncertain times for the NBA as it continues to navigate the coronavirus pandemic.

COVID-19 protocols have left rosters lighter in number and, with contract tracing having a major impact, it is far from surprising to see games being postponed.

The absences have offered some players greater opportunities to impress in the embryonic stages of a shortened season that will require adaptability from all involved.

After an eventful week, Stats Perform assesses those performers who have stood out - for good and bad reasons - in games from January 4-10.

 

RUNNING HOT...

Bradley Beal 

It has been a tough start for the Wizards, who are stuck in the basement of the Eastern Conference. Beal, however, has excelled amid the defeats. He is averaging 35 points per game for the season but has been particularly spectacular in recent outings, including dropping 60 against the Philadelphia 76ers. While it set a new career best for points - and tied a franchise record too - Beal made clear he is not interested in personal milestones: "I just want to win. Sometimes you might be able to score 40, 50, 60, whatever the case may be, but I just want to win".

Tyrese Maxey 

The 21st pick in the 2020 draft had scored a combined tally of 52 points through his first nine NBA appearances. Then, amid injuries, positive COVID tests and coronavirus-enforced isolations, Maxey was thrust into a leading role as one of just seven players available against the Denver Nuggets on Saturday. His response to the situation was to score 39 points in just under 44 minutes of action, having taken 33 shots but no free throw attempts. In doing so, he became the first 76ers rookie with at least 35 points in a game since franchise legend Allen Iverson in 1997. 

Jimmy Butler 

Butler has begun to heat up after a cold start to the new campaign for Miami. The five-time All-Star had been hampered by injury issues but has looked back to somewhere near his best of late, managing 18, 26 and 26 points in his past three games. Surprisingly, though, Butler is still yet to manage a successful three-point attempt, missing on his seven shots from deep so far. It is a different story from the free-throw line, though, going 28 of 29 from the charity stripe.

LaMelo Ball 

The rise and rise of the youngest Ball brother continues. The point guard became the youngest player in NBA history to score a triple-double as Charlotte Hornets beat the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday. At 19 years and 140 days old, Ball had 22 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists. He had narrowly missed out on achieving the feat in his team's previous outing, against a New Orleans Pelicans team that included older sibling Lonzo. His rebounding average has gone from 4.33 a game to 9.25 across the past week. 

GOING COLD...

James Harden  

The NBA's scoring champion for the previous three seasons, Harden is still averaging 26 points per game despite continued doubts over his long-term future in Houston. However, it has not been a particularly productive week for the guard, who has not reached double digits in terms of field goals made in four straight outings. There were 15-point displays against both the Pacers and the Magic, then 20 points in a defeat to the Lakers. Across that stretch, Harden was six for 22 from three-point range. Astonishingly, he did not attempt a solitary free throw against Orlando. 

Trae Young 

To say Young has gone cold from deep recently is an understatement. The Atlanta Hawk landed five of six attempts in the season-opener against the Bulls, but since then has managed just nine successful long-range shots, including going a combined one for 14 in his most recent three appearances. Understandably, then, his average for points per game has dipped from 28.17 on January 3 to 17.67 for the past week.

Russell Westbrook 

A quadriceps injury will keep Westbrook sidelined for at least a week. His early form with the Wizards has been steady, including reaching double digits for points in all of his seven games for the franchise. Where there has been a dip for the former NBA MVP is in rebounding. He was up at 11.20 per game for the season by January 3, but he has averaged 6.00 for the past week following reduced contributions in defeats to the 76ers and the Celtics.

Blake Griffin  

Griffin hit with eight of 16 three-point shots for Detroit against the Cavaliers on December 26, but his output from long range since suggests that number could prove to be a post-Christmas outlier when compared to the rest of the season. In the past week, the 31-year-old has landed two from deep out of 18 tries for the struggling Pistons. His overall field goal percentage is down on his career mark too (37.6 per cent from 49.7 per cent), explaining why he is averaging 13.9 points per game. 

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