The Rockets won a wild game in Dallas on Wednesday night, 117-115, over the Mavericks, their second straight without James Harden in the lineup. The victory was big for Houston as it battles to stay within reach of home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs, but some comments surfaced after the game that make the narrative a little more interesting moving forward.
Forward Chandler Parsons, when asked about how Harden's absence affects the team, responded with some remarks you might not expect from a team in the middle of a playoff race.
This from an Associated Press report published on Yahoo! Sports:
''When he's out, we have a more balanced attack,'' Parsons said of Harden. ''We run our sets and get the best shot available. When he's not there, we don't go one-on-one as much.''
The context in this situation is not entirely certain, but unless this quote had some ulterior purpose the article does not clarify, it seems a bit strange given the circumstances. For whatever it's worth, the Rockets shoot the ball at a negligibly better percentage and create a slightly improved assist rate when Harden is on the bench, according to NBA.com/Stats, but their efficiency ratings are worse by several points per 100 possessions on both sides of the ball when he sits.
And it's not like that's surprising, as Harden is one of the league's top perimeter threats and a brute force in drawing fouls and getting to the free throw line. So that just makes Parsons' comments all the more perplexing. Again, we don't want to look at this in a vacuum without being entirely sure of the context involved. Perhaps he's just being literal in this case, explaining the team has to work as a whole without its best scorer in the lineup to get the most efficient opportunities, but it seems like a bit of a backhanded way to do so, regardless.