Houston Rockets: 3 takeaways from Christmas win over Thunder

Photo by Jeff Haynes/Getty Images
Photo by Jeff Haynes/Getty Images /
4 of 4
Photo by Jeff Haynes/Getty Images
Photo by Jeff Haynes/Getty Images /

1. James Harden is the most unique offensive weapon in the game

Despite playing without the services of Chris Paul for the second straight affair, James Harden still found a way to shoulder the load in every way the Rockets needed. The reigning Most Valuable Player sought to showcase his wide array of tricks against one of the league’s top defenses.

Throughout the game, Harden mixed up how he attacked Oklahoma City’s defense, initially making a concerted effort to use screens to take advantage of driving lanes inside. He also utilized his ball-handling skills and hesitation moves to hit tough shots around the paint and perimeter, as the Beard’s play in the final minutes helped propel Houston to yet another victory.


"“[He is playing] up to another level that I don’t know maybe he’s even been before,” Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni said told The Athletic‘s Alykhan Bijani when discussing Harden’s spectacular offensive stretch in his postgame press conference. “It’s hard to tell once he gets to that altitude, but he’s been playing great.”"

Although Harden was rarely able to draw the preferable switches and matchups that he seeks to exploit out in isolation, the six-time All-Star was still able to put together yet another impressive performance. The Beard’s latest encore marks the fifth straight game in which he has scored at least 35 points or more.

To put that into perspective, Harden’s current streak is the longest that the league has seen since Carmelo Anthony — who did it in six consecutive games back in April 2013 during his time with the New York Knicks.

Should Harden continue to torch opponents at the rate he currently has the rest of the way, then there is a strong chance that coaches may continue to have sleepless nights when game planning for the former Arizona State product.

His ability to throw out counter moves for every scheme and defensive concept that teams throw at him has granted him to ability to become arguably one of the most dominant offensive weapons in the history of basketball.

Next. Week 11 NBA Power Rankings. dark

Houston will seek to take advantage of an off day, prior to getting prepared to take on Kyrie Irving and the Boston Celtics on Thursday night.