NBA

'Historically great' Harden is 'head of the snake' for Nets

By Sports Desk December 28, 2021

Steve Nash praised a "historically great" James Harden after he joined an exclusive club with his instrumental performance for the Brooklyn Nets against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Harden, having racked up 36 points in his first game since exiting the NBA's health and safety protocols in the Nets' Christmas Day win over the Los Angeles Lakers, backed that effort up with a 39-point display versus the Clippers, which also saw him register 15 assists and eight rebounds.

His showing in the 124-108 triumph saw Harden become the 10th player in NBA history with 20,000 points, 6,000 assists and 5,000 rebounds. 

Also in that club are Kobe Bryant, Clyde Drexler, John Havlicek, LeBron James, Chris Paul, Gary Payton, Oscar Robertson, Jerry West and Russell Westbrook.

And Nash said of the 2018 MVP: "He's historically great. The numbers he's put up are incredible.

"He's one of the best players of his generation and it's mind-boggling to think of all the numbers he's put up and all the success he's had.

"He's one of those very, very special players not only of his generation but historically. The numbers back it up."

On his spectacular return following his time in the protocol, Nash added: "You're expecting guys to feel their way back into it. But from the jump against the Lakers, again [v the Clippers], he's just been clinical.

"Just such a great head of the snake for us. When he plays like that we are very difficult to beat."

Asked if he felt he benefited from his two-week lay-off, Harden replied: "Probably. I was starting to feel good right before then…That break, Covid, or protocol, or rest, whatever you want to call it, it could've went two ways.

"I just locked in on my body, my eating, and when I was able to start working out, my workouts. I felt good. My body felt good.

"I'm trying to make sure my body feels great so I can continue to keep going up in the regular season and preparing for the playoffs. 

"Individually I have to make sure I'm in the best shape and I'm the best James that I can be for my team-mates.

"If I'm in that form, good things will happen for my team."

Related items

  • Confidence will not get the job done for the Celtics, warns Mazzulla Confidence will not get the job done for the Celtics, warns Mazzulla

    Joe Mazzulla warned the Boston Celtics that the confidence garnered from taking a 2-0 series lead against the Indiana Pacers is not enough to secure progress.

    The Celtics won 126-110 on Thursday to move two games ahead in their Eastern Conference finals series against the Pacers.

    Indiana were also dealt a blow when star player Tyrese Haliburton suffered a hamstring injury, which the Pacers will wait agonisingly on.

    Yet with the Pacers having overturned a deficit to overcome the New York Knicks in the last round, Celtics coach Mazzulla knows the job is nowhere near done.

    "The only thing we should be thinking about is, they were down 2-0 a series Tago and brought it to Game 7," Mazzulla said.

    "They do a great job protecting their home court. They're undefeated at home. It's going to take a lot more than confidence to get the job done.

    "We have to focus on the details and the execution and the mindset, the things that go into playing against a team like this at home.

    "I know they're going to respond so it's up to us to do the same."

    Jaylen Brown starred again for the Celtics, finishing with 40 points on the day he missed out on an All-NBA selection.

    "We're two games from the Finals," he said when asked about that snub. "So, honestly, I don't have the time to give a f***."

    Indiana, meanwhile, face the prospect of having to fight back against the NBA's best team without their key player.

    "He does so many things for our team," T.J McConnell said of Haliburton.

    "I think everyone has to move the ball more, get in the paint more. The ball movement has to be at another level. He gets 10 assists in his sleep, so it's hard for another person on our team to replicate that. It's a group effort when he goes down."

    Pacers coach Rick Carlisle added: "We'll know more [on Friday] and then probably more Saturday."

  • Bickerstaff departs Cavs after four years in charge Bickerstaff departs Cavs after four years in charge

    J.B. Bickerstaff has been dismissed by the Cleveland Cavaliers after four years in charge of the Eastern Conference side.

    Bickerstaff guided the Cavs to the playoffs in successive seasons, including their first Eastern Conference semifinals appearance since 2018 this term. There, they were beaten by the top seeds in the Boston Celtics.

    The 45-year-old posted a regular season record of 170-159, with the youthful Cleveland winning at least 44 times in each of their last three campaigns.

    Koby Altman, the Cavaliers' President of Basketball Operations, paid tribute to the outgoing coach as he revealed the franchise were seeking a change in direction.

    "J.B. is a well-respected NBA coach and an incredible human being," Altman said.

    "Over the past four years, he helped establish a culture that progressively drove players to become the best versions of themselves. Decisions like these are never easy, particularly when you look back at where this franchise rebuild started under his leadership.

    "The NBA is a unique business that sometimes requires aggressive risk-taking to move a franchise forward and ultimately compete for championships. We owe a ton of gratitude for everything J.B. has contributed to the Cavaliers and his engagement in the Cleveland community."

  • NBA: Brown scores 40 to give Celtics 2-0 lead in East finals NBA: Brown scores 40 to give Celtics 2-0 lead in East finals

    Jaylen Brown scored 10 of his career playoff high 40 points during a first-half surge and the Boston Celtics pulled away for a 126-110 victory over the Indiana Pacers to take a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals on Thursday night.

    After his 3-pointer with 5.7 seconds left in regulation forced overtime in Game 1, Brown helped Boston turn a five-point deficit in the first quarter into a 15-point second-quarter lead.

    The Celtics led 42-27 after that 20-0 run and never relinquished the lead.

    Indiana missed nine straight shots and committed four turnovers during the drought that lasted more than six minutes. Brown had 10 points during the run and had 24 by halftime.

    Jayson Tatum and Derrick White each scored 23 points and Jrue Holiday had 15 with 10 assists for the top-seeded Celtics, who lost Game 2 in both of their previous series this postseason.

    The series shifts to Indiana for Game 3 on Saturday night.

    Pacers star guard Tyrese Haliburton had 10 points and eight assists before leaving in the third quarter with a sore left leg.

    Pascal Siakam led Indiana with 28 points and Andrew Nembhard added 16.

    The Pacers got as close as 68-66 on Siakam’s 3 with 7:55 left in the third quarter, but Derrick White and Tatum dunked and White made a 3 a minute later to give the Celtics a 75-68 advantage.

    Brown’s 3 with 4:32 to go in the third extended the lead to 80-71 and Indiana would get no closer.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.