James Harden committed 13 turnovers in Game 5 against the Golden State Warriors, setting a new record for most turnovers in a playoff game. It might not shock you that the Rockets lost the game and are now eliminated. They are eliminated because they lost four games in the series, but they might as well have been eliminated because everybody watched James Harden playing basketball and realized it was inhumane to allow him to continue playing basketball.
James Harden's night was a rare combination of questionable decisions, passes apparently thrown by somebody lacking basic motor skills and ill-fated dribbles. This happened against a team completely keyed-in defensively on Harden, set to destroy him. It gets ugly, it gets uglier and it gets ugliest. Here is a video of 12 of James Harden's turnovers.
We do not see the 13th, but we can more or less imagine that he takes the ball and baseball passes it into the sun. Let us describe the other 12.
1. 10:44 left, first quarter: Harden catches the ball in the post in transition off an entry pass from Trevor Ariza. Upon catching the ball, he turns and begins to jump. However, he immediately realizes upon turning that Harrison Barnes is there waiting to swat the living hell out of his shot. He ends his jump, hopes nobody has noticed and tries to gather for a second attempt. However, everybody has noticed. This is traveling and a turnover.
2. 10:36 left, first quarter: Harden is in transition and has a two-on-one with Jason Terry against Steph Curry.
He makes a few mistakes. The first is deciding to pass to Jason Terry -- an old rickety prospector whom the Houston Rockets keep around as a good luck charm -- instead of taking the ball into Curry, who is hedging between the two and was in no position to draw a charge. The second is waiting long enough to make the pass that Curry can easily deflect and steal.
3. 5:42 left, first quarter: Harden cuts past his man and gets the ball in space at the top of the key. He dribbles once, runs into Curry and sets the ball with both of his palms like a volleyball player.
4. 1:30 left, first quarter: Harden comes off a high pick and roll and is immediately swallowed whole by the Warriors' defense. He is the blip of red entirely ensconced by three Warriors players with one more staring menacingly at him, preparing to ensconce:
He realizes he must pass the ball. He throws the ball 200 miles an hour at Terrence Jones' right hand. The ball bounces out of bounds.
5. 35 seconds left, first quarter: James Harden is bringing the ball up the court. He has so many places to throw the ball. The place he chooses to throw the ball is Andre Iguodala.
Harden tries to make a steal once Iguodala corrals the ball, and actually gets it off of him. But in an attempt to recover it, he stumbles and kicks it away.
6. 8:26 left, second quarter: Harden is bringing the ball upcourt after a Golden State made field goal. He tries to make a three-quarter court pass to Dwight Howard near the basket, but it sails over his head.
7. 5 seconds left, second quarter: Harden comes across court and lets the Warriors ease him into a trap along the sideline:
Harden attempts a skip pass to Trevor Ariza, all the way at the top of the screen. It probably would have been stolen if it was a good pass, because Ariza is super-duper covered by Steph Curry. But it isn't a good pass: Shaun Livingston is too long and he can't really get the pass over him. The pass makes it about two-thirds of the way there, Curry picks it off and the Warriors get a free fast break before the end of the half. (Curry misses a three, though.)
8. 4:53 left, third quarter: Harden tries taking Andre Iguodala off the dribble, and once again ends up in a mess of Warriors:
Harden loses his dribble and Leandro Barbosa takes it the other way.
9. 3:57 left, third quarter: This time, Harden tries taking Draymond Green off the dribble. Green takes his damn lunch box.
To me, this is the most embarrassing one. He tries to get past Green with a flurry of crossovers and through-the-leg dribbles, but Green just says "nah," reaches in and pokes the ball away, completely unfazed. Harden responds by tackling him.
10. 1:14 left, third quarter: Harden comes off a pick, which doesn't shake Iguodala, who knocks away one of Harden's through-the-leg dribbles. Same idea as the sonning by Green a few minutes earlier, slightly less embarrassing since it's less of an iso and Harden was in some crowded space.
11. 7:19 left, fourth quarter: Harden finds himself on a fast break and tries to kick the ball to a shooter in the corner. To get to that shooter, he should've thrown the ball at about a 45 degree angle from the direction he was running. Instead, he loses control of the ball and throws it more or less straight ahead.
12. 40 seconds left, fourth quarter: Harden tries to dribble the ball between his legs. He bounces it off his foot, it bounces away and our story is complete: