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James Harden trolls his own team by beating the Warriors

Good morning. We have that and more in Friday's NBA newsletter.

Good morning. Let's basketball.

YOUR BROOMS ARE NO GOOD HERE: The Rockets came up with the upset of the postseason, winning 97-96 in a very strange game. Rodger Sherman explains how they did it: no Steph Curry and the weirdest final 14 seconds imaginable, with turnovers, onions and body slams. No, really -- Draymond Green basically body slammed Michael Beasley after himself fumbling the ball out-of-bounds. I presume "every team does that," too, right?


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And that wasn't the first dirty play of the game for the Warriors. Andrew Bogut hit Dwight Howard with the full arm bar, the type of move that injures shoulders. Rude. Are these dudes banking on Steph sitting out the rest of the series? They know Houston has PATRICK BEVERLEY, right? If I'm Steve Kerr and Curry is playing in Game 4, I'm putting him in Under Armour and Over Armour.

But for my money, the absolutely top moment of this bizarro game was the Rockets bench's reaction after James Harden hit the game-winner with seconds to go. These dudes look way more annoyed that they now must fly back to Oakland this weekend and delay their vacations at least two more days. Or they just like Harden that little. Man. For what it's worth, I think Ray Ratto had the right read on this: the Rockets know the task is hopeless, so why care? Same applies to a muted Houston crowd.

OH YEAH: There were two other games that were far less interesting. Toronto beat the snot out of the Pacers to go up 2-1 and regain home court. The Thunder sprinted away from the Mavericks late to win by 29. Raymond Felton trying to compete with Steven Adams for rebounding positioning was violent and hilarious. Dirk Nowitzki tried a rare transition dunk, which would surely have been followed with some excellent, sarcastic preening, but Russell Westbrook hates nostalgia and crushed it with a swat. "Give up the past and embrace the future!" Westbrook yelled as he completed the task.

THE NEXT WOLVES: I wrote about why everyone's excited about the Timberwolves under Tom Thibodeau but that the new president-coach has a tough decision to make about Ricky Rubio.


OKC 131, DAL 102
TOR 101, IND 85
GSW 96, HOU 97


Cavaliers at Pistons, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN, CLE leads 2-0
Hawks at Celtics, 8 p.m., ESPN2, ATL leads 2-0
Spurs at Grizzlies, 9:30 p.m., ESPN, SAS leads 2-0

FLAWLESS: Heat rookie Josh Richardson was texting and accidentally walked right onto a live TV set. Whoops!

WELP: The Hornets are deeply worried about Nicolas Batum's ankle injury. Speaking of the Hornets, Hassan Whiteside is wreaking havoc on their interior defense.

PODCAST TIME: Prada and Epstein on the Clippers, who are sitting pretty.

NEW LEADERSHIP IN D.C.: The Wizards gave Scott Brooks a lucrative, multi-year deal. No one is going to say that hire is at least partially about Kevin Durant, but I feel like Scott Brooks owes Kevin Durant a steak dinner, or thank-you note or a luxury car. That's all I'm saying. Bullets Forever has 11 reasons to be excited by the Brooks era, including ... well, you know.

IMPORTANT: I missed this amid the LeBron-Stanley Johnson trash talk the other day, but apparently the rookie brought the word "fugazy" back into the NBA fold. Yes! Where's Tim Thomas at?!

GOOD: Adam Silver is escalating his threat to yank the All-Star Game out of Charlotte if HB2 isn't repealed.

OH BOY: How a 29-year-old man fooled enough people to play a year of high school basketball at a Canadian Catholic school.

A LEGITIMATE QUESTION: Charles Barkley asks whether the Thunder have to wash Cameron Payne's jersey. Via r/nba.

THE IRON VIRGIN: Will Ferrell narrates a new documentary short on A.C. Green's celibacy. Via REDEF.

WHEEL BALTON: WSJ on Bill Walton's love affair with cycling.


See you next time.


Get news, links and Ziller's #hottakes in your inbox every weekday morning.