ORLANDO – The Houston Rockets beat the Orlando Magic 103-107 on 54 points from scoring phenomenon James Harden.
The Magic, coming off of losses facing the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers, he’d to face yet another top-tier NBA team and did not shrink to the challenge. though they showed their “heart and hustle”, NBA record talent can sometimes be too hard to overcome.
Many wondered how the combination of former MVP’s Harden and Russell Westbrook would work out with two on the most dominant scorers in the history of the league on one team.
We are starting to see how this is going to work.
Against Orlando, the Rockets were led by scoring by Harden, but when Harden was on the bench or wasn’t open, it became the Russell show.
Both players can score at will. Both are deadly shooters. Harden and the Rockets didn’t have to battle with a pick n roll philosophy with the two scorers on the floor. It was pick you poison, and Harden was the dealer as he came up the court in isolation.
Westbrook is still struggling with his shot, but did not hesitate to drive past Magic defenders to score at the rim, scored 23 points. Harden did some of that, but was devastating from behind the arc, shooting 10 of 15 from deep.
Orlando’s Aaron Gordon scrapped and battled for each possession, each shot, each point. Evan Fournier put in 27 point, followed by Gordon with 21. Birch, Isaac, Gordon, and Bamba all rejected the famed Harden to Capella alley-oop many times tonight. It wasn’t enough for this scoring juggernaught.
“The hardest thing is that it’s normally it’s pick-and-roll, and tonight it was just iso, which is obviously the hardest thing.” said Orlando Head Coach Steve Clifford “You’ve got a great player in the middle of the floor with more room to cover. It makes it hard, because you have those other guys. Look at their shooting percentages for the year. Tucker (PJ Tucker) is over 40, House (James House Jr) is over 40, so they just spread out. He was great.
Orlando forward Evan Fournier expressed how frustrating is is to cover Harden.
“Yeah, that’s extremely frustrating. When a guy has like 50 points, obviously its almost embarrassing. “Said Fournier “He’s that great and the fact that he does it every night, it’s really impressive.”
Orlando next heads out on the road as they face the Pelican’s in New Orleans on Sunday. Theres is a good possibility that Nikole Vucevic will return to the floor for that game.