“Saved by the Step Back”

hard playoffs
James Harden’s signature move captures victory for the Rox. (Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports)

Last night, the Houston Rockets narrowly avoided an 0-3 hole to the defending champion Warriors. Riding a furious rally led by IAN CLARK (11 points, 5 assists), the Dubs found themselves with an unexpected lead with under 10 seconds left, following Trevor Ariza‘s errant inbounds pass.

Enter: James Harden. Houston’s bearded superstar is the only Rocket who’s played well the entire series, keeping the regular-season tradition alive of James getting his (35 points, 9 dimes, 8 boards) and the “rest” not offering a ton of support. Isolated on Andre Iguodala up top, Harden unleashed his patented, spin-step back for the go-ahead bucket & victory.

Amazing shot, albeit with some controversy attached. Today, the NBA released it’s officiating report for the last two minutes of yesterday’s game…and Harden’s “push off” was on there as a missed offensive foul. It wasn’t anything too egregious but Houston would be dead in the water if called “correctly.”

The reaction of Houston’s bench, after Harden’s bucket, was also under fire – only Clint Capela jumped up and down to celebrate. So this means the other guys were pissed vacation plans would be postponed, right?


And it’s really much to think much about. Houston controlled the entire game in Steph Curry‘s absence and held the lead before nearly collapsing after poor execution down the stretch. After Clark hit the go-ahead lay-up, there were no timeouts; Harden had to go immediately and make a play.

Harden actually converting the shot was sigh of relief, as the Rox have blown plenty of opportunities during their disjointed 2015-16 campaign. Anyone who says otherwise is digging for a non-story.

Steph’s expected to return for Game 4, so this series isn’t long for this world regardless.

But for now, Harden’s step back keeps Houston in the fight.


-Jabari J.

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