James Harden was quick to remind everyone why the Brooklyn Nets cleared the cupboard last week to buy it back from the Houston Rockets. It’s only been 48 hours since Harden joined his new team and he hasn’t had a chance to work out with them yet. You would think Harden would need time to get used to his new teammates. But that was certainly not the case Saturday night.
The bearded superstar left his fingerprints on Brooklyn’s 122-115 victory over the Orlando Magic. Led by Kevin Durant, who scored 42 points, Harden had a triple-double in his debut at net.
The former league MVP racked up 32 points, 11 rebounds and 14 assists in the 7-point victory. In 40 minutes of play, he hit 8 of 18 shots from the field, sank three 3-pointers and made four steals and one block. Since this was his first game with a new team, Harden probably deserves an A for his great performance on Saturday.
So why not an A-plus? Well, Harden made nine rotations on the night. Yes, he has had a few moments of laxity, but we are separating. In addition, Harden made a great debut in Brooklyn, which certainly has Nets fans excited for what’s to come. In fact, it was also a historical event.
Harden’s 14 dimes were the most numerous in a first game for the Nets franchise. The former playmaker also became the first player in NBA history to score a 30-point triple-double in his first game with a new team.
As expected, James Harden took his time on the offensive end. But he started the game by doing other things, especially on the other side of the ball. For his first defensive possession as a goalie, Harden took the ball off Cole Anthony’s header for the only block of the night. Two minutes later he pushed Nikola Vucevic’s ball away on a counter attack.
Harden’s first 12 minutes with Brooklyn ended without a basket, just two points off two free throws with six seconds left. The left winger’s first goal came in the second quarter, in the 10th minute of the game, with a Euro step in the middle. Slowly but surely, Harden finally found his rhythm on the offensive end.
Although Harden made a few changes here and there, he found his teammates to be quite visible in the half-race sets. He found shooters like Joe Harris and Jeff Green for three-way shots and even shot with Reggie Perry in a pick-and-roll.
In this game, Harden also showed off his skills as a transition player. Some of Harden’s quick passes came from him looking down and throwing the ball to his teammates, who went out of bounds. This led to quick attacks and easy finishes for Brooklyn.
Of course, James Harden wasted no time renewing his chemistry with Kevin Durant either. Six of his 14 dimes in one night accounted for 13 of KD’s 42 points.
If that’s how Harden’s first game with the Brooklyn Nets went, you can imagine how disruptive his game will be as he develops chemistry and relationships with his teammates. Of course, we have to think about how Kyrie Irving’s return, when it happens, will ultimately affect her.
It remains to be seen how the three elite superstars will ultimately play each other. Still, Harden is looking forward to Irving’s return and has warned the league about the dreaded hours when the Brooklyn Big Three will finally debut together.
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