James Harden owes much of his success to an ability to manipulate officials into giving him all-expenses paid passes to the free throw line. That’s why it was so jarring to see and hear the disrespect Harden showed for those officials at the tail end of his second consecutive 50 point game. It was the first time a player had accomplished the feat since Kobe Bryant in 2007.
Unfortunately, Harden’s 50 point performances were marred by a left leg injury to Chris Paul and a two-game losing streak. After making 15 of 16 free throw attempts on Friday night, most players would be gathering addresses of those officials and sending them Christmas gifts.
Not Harden, who appeared unnerved at the conclusion of the Houston Rockets’ 128-118 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. He earned his sixth foul with the game already out of reach and instead of walking off the floor, Harden approached an official and dislodged the ball from his hands.
Harden’s outburst was apparently triggered by the back-to-back offensive fouls he was called for on rookie guard Jawun Evans. In the final two minutes, Harden scored just two points, turned the ball over twice and was whistled for three fouls.
Although, Evans exaggerated for the first offensive foul, Harden has to be smarter than that. Especially because Evans simply gave Harden a bit of his own medicine.
@Reflog_18 I was hoping with your Twitter following you could help me locate the assassin who shot James Harden here. There’s no other reason for that flop. It was breathtaking. pic.twitter.com/3FDtk41W2O
— TheClemsonKid (@theclemsonkid) November 10, 2017
Harden’s second offensive foul on Evans came out of frustration. Evans was hounding Harden defensively and instead of getting back at him or Austin Rivers on the other end, The Beard regressed to the form he was last seen in May. That was when he capitulated to a gritty Spurs team last May out of exhaustion or in a self-defeatist mental mode. When the going got tough, Harden’s brain left. He lost his equanimity and his cool on the floor and was still fired up in the locker room afterwards.
Harden on the officiating: “Bullsh*t calls… I’m tired of hearing ‘I made a mistake’ or ‘I didn’t see it’. It’s frustrating when you hear that as a player.” pic.twitter.com/MftVzbpwUq
— ClutchFans (@clutchfans) December 23, 2017
Despite the NBA cracking down on shooters creating contact through the newly implemented Harden rule, the Rockets guard is still leading the NBA in freebies. Relations between players and officials this season have been tense enough for the league to intervene. Now’s not the time for Harden to bite the hands that feed him.
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