There’s a special place in basketball history for players who excel more every night and never stop improving. The Rockets defeated the Jazz last night 102-97 in a game that had techs, ghost foul calls and travels. (Yes, travels, Houston Twitter.) By the end of it all, the best player on this team, and maybe the second best in its franchise history, showed that he has become every bit the player we thought he would.
James Harden scored 47 points while grabbing 6 rebounds, dishing out 6 assists. He also had five steals, just to add to the pure insanity of how great of a player this man has become. Last night he joined the company of Michael Jordan and Clyde Drexler as the only players to have three or more games of 45-5-5-5. With Michael doing it 10 times and Clyde doing it four times, you can expect to see James move past Clyde and possibly catch the GOAT in a stat that’s beyond description.
But besides the sweet greatness of James Harden, this game had a sour taste that has lingered throughout the early season: what in God’s name is wrong with Chris Paul and Eric Gordon?
EG and CP3 combined for 23 points last night on 7-23 shooting. That’s unacceptable from two players that need to stand and be counted every single night. Granted, if this had just been one bad night from EG and CP3, you could chalk it up and move on. However, these two have not lived up to last season’s form.
Most believe that CP3 is hurt or suffers tendinitis in his shooting elbow. Whether or not he is injured, he needs to play significantly better for this Rockets team to have any shot or prayer at competing in May and hopefully June.
And I have no idea what has happened to Eric Gordon’s shot. We already knew that he was a streaky shooter, but even dating back to last year, he had never been this inconsistent or terrible shooting the three. With his recent comments to The Athletic’s Kelly Iko, it’s clear that EG is not the same player that he was last year. Shooting 29% from three-point range this year won’t cut it, and Daryl Morey knows it.
It was a solid win at home but in the end, there is room for improvement for two of the four best players on this team. They will need to step up before the voices become louder and the challenge becomes harder.
All stats courtesy of NBA Advanced Stats