Mike D’Antoni Tries To Explain James Harden’s Performance

Mike D’Antoni Tries To Explain James Harden’s Performance

Mike D’Antoni Tries To Explain James Harden’s Performance

Houston Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni stepped up to the batter’s box following his team’s 110-100 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers and answered some tough questions.

When confronted with how his superstar only took 11 shots — zero in the fourth quarter — with the season essentially on the line, D’Antoni did his best to come up with an answer.

“Well, they’re double-teaming every time,” he said.

“I don’t really look. Those are stats that don’t really mean anything. Just as long as somebody’s scoring. And we’ve done it in different quarters.

“We just haven’t sustained it all the way through. And a lot of that is creating turnovers, running. You know in half-court, they’re going to double him and it’s going to be up the other guys to score a little bit more.”

Harden ended up scoring 21 points in the loss, but a big chunk of that came as a result of the 16 free throws he hit.

For the most part, the Lakers either had him completely contained or he looked totally out of it.

Houston attempted to run countless pick-and-rolls on Thursday night to get the offense going. Seventeen times, the Lakers simply caved in and trapped Harden, leading to .714 points per possession.

Usually, the team averages 1.13 points per possession.

“Again, I just look at what’s the right play in that one moment,” D’Antoni added.

“I think for the most part he was trying to make the right play. They’re good. They got guys running around. When LeBron’s running around, they were dive-bombing the guy in the middle.

“So we’ll have to get ready for that. Do a little bit of a better job. But you got to give them their part in it. They’re playing really well, running around like crazy.”

The Rockets now find themselves down 3-1 in their best-of-seven series. Barring the Lakers collapsing in the sort of fashion that Houston is known for in these scenarios, D’Antoni and Harden will likely be back home this time next week.

What that means for the pair going forward is to be determined.

Rockets general manager Daryl Morey has promised that re-signing D’Antoni is his foremost priority heading into the offseason, but it remains to be seen how true that actually is.

Team owner Tilman Fertitta has been resistant to extending D’Antoni past one season, and that does not appear to be something the 69-year-old is willing to accept.

There have been quiet murmurs that if D’Antoni ultimately parts ways with the Rockets, he will end up with the Indiana Pacers. Those are just rumors, though.

All that is known at the moment is that the Rockets are on their way to another disappointing exit from the playoffs. And a lot of that has to do with Harden being precisely who he always has been when it matters most.

Game 5 between the Lakers and Rockets is scheduled for Saturday.

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Carlos Garcia

A longtime sports reporter, Carlos Garcia has written about some of the biggest and most notable athletic events of the last 5 years. He has been credentialed to cover MLS, NBA and MLB games all over the United States. His work has been published on Fox Sports, Bleacher Report, AOL and the Washington Post.

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