THE COUCH SLOUCH

NBA has become the league of extraordinary duos

In the NBA, super teams have morphed into super pairings. Taking the lead from the world of entertainment – those folks knew that Simon & Garfunkel & Cher or Laurel and Hardy and Abbott would never work – trios have downsized to duos.

So this season, eight superstars – all certain hall of famers – have formed four superstar twosomes.

Couch Slouch, who knows a thing or two – and only a thing or two – about successful coupling – is here to assess the prospects for these iconic basketball marriages.

(Please note that no successful coupling will ever involve I-got-my-shots-so-I-don't-care-what-happens-elsewhere-on-the-court Carmelo Anthony, who returned last week from his forced NBA sabbatical by recording a minus-20 in 24 minutes of play with the Portland Trail Blazers.)

The duos are ranked here from most likely to win an NBA championship to most likely to end up broken, bickering and Bernie Madoff-like:

1. Kawhi Leonard-Paul George, Los Angeles Clippers: They are in their prime, they are surrounded by wonderful complementary parts and they have a fine coach, Doc Rivers. What could go wrong?

Well, everything.

Both are still somewhat youthful – Leonard is 28, George 29 – but both might have trouble staying on the court. In eight NBA seasons, Leonard has played 66 or fewer games six times; George, meanwhile, fractured his right leg to miss almost all of 2014-15, and he missed the first 11 games this season after shoulder surgery.

Heck, load management issues alone might keep Leonard out of Games 1, 3 and 6 in a seven-game NBA Finals.

2. LeBron James-Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers: These are inarguably two of the best all-around players in the NBA, unless you want to argue the point.

James seems indestructible, except he'll turn 35 next month, he's in his 17th NBA season and he takes more hits than Tom Brady. The Lakers could not survive a prolonged period in which James is sidelined.

Davis, who never has played more than 75 games in a season, just spent seven years in New Orleans in witness protection; he can't wait for the postseason, since he only got there twice with the Pelicans.

3. James Harden-Russell Westbrook, Houston Rockets: This feels like a sporting Manhattan Project, except instead of secrecy, this race to make the first atomic bomb is played out in large arenas three nights a week. Harden (uranium) and Westbrook (plutonium), are durable ball hogs and wondrous to watch. But if you told either former MVP to play 48 minutes and take 50 shots, either might reply, "Why not 60 shots?"

4. Kyrie Irving-Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets: Too big to fail? No. Too fanciful to succeed. This is a more guaranteed bust than the next Charlie Sheen sitcom. Irving and Durant keep seeking new homes to show the true measure of their talent. But they are as temperamental as talented, and Durant – out this entire season with a torn ACL – might be a step-too-slow diva when he returns.

Anyhow, ballyhooed pairings are not guaranteed to thrive. For example:

Richard Nixon-Spiro Agnew: This simply did not end well for all parties concerned.

Sears-Kmart: The only thing that would've made this retail merger worse is if Radio Shack were involved.

Julius Caesar and Cleopatra: Frankly, I think they were using each other.

Gilligan and the Skipper: Despite better WiFi and more precise GPS than ever, these bozos are still deserted on that island.

Bonnie and Clyde: I understand getting out of the house on occasion to break the same old same old, but these lovebirds were just a bit too edgy for their own good.

America Online-Time Warner: I have earned a paycheck from both companies, and I am here to tell you – this was a nightmare alliance made in purgatory and destined for hell.

Romeo and Juliet: If they had eloped – and I recommend eloping, particularly on your second or third go-around – I believe a life or two would've been spared.

Thelma & Louise: And they say women are smarter.

On the other hand, kudos to Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner for always understanding their roles.

Ask the Slouch

Q. If even the professionals in Joe Gibbs' pit crew mixed up the left and right front tires in the NASCAR Cup Series championship, then isn't it reasonable to expect my fiancé to forgive me for swiping left on her instead of right on Tinder? (Doug Thompson; Springfield, Ill.)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

Q. Will the NFL stop playing games at foreign neutral sites now that Daniel Snyder has created a domestic neutral site just outside of Washington, D.C.? (Terry Golden; Vienna, Va.)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

Q. With the accusations against the Houston Astros using video to steal signs in MLB, is that just now called a "belichick"? (Michael Kolb; Spokane, Wash.)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

Q. Will recent unrest at Hong Kong Poly U. impact thinking of the College Football Playoff committee on its ranking? (Ken Unzicker; Fairfax, Va.)

A. Pay the man Shirley.

You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just email asktheslouch@aol.com and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!



Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images


The Rockets have squandered plenty of opportunities to win championships this past decade. They have had three teams that were worthy of a championship. Those three teams were star studded but what happened?

Those three teams were the 2008-2009, 2017-2018, 2018-2019 Rockets. Three capable teams to win a championship.

The 2008-2009 Rockets had a lot of potential on the court. They had Yao Ming, Tracy McGrady, Ron Artest, Rafer Alston, and Shane Battier. The key role players for the team were Aaron Brooks, Luis Scola, Carl Landry, Luther Head, Von Wafer, and Dikembe Mutombo. Even though the Rockets finished in fifth place that year, the Western Conference was tough. They were one spot out of third and fourth place in the conference. Two dramatic injuries that hurt the Rockets were McGrady and Yao. McGrady went down earlier that season. This caused the Rockets to lose creativity at the guard position. McGrady always struggled with injuries in his Rocket's tenure. Yao suffered an injury during semifinals against the Los Angeles Lakers. That was a huge loss because the Rockets lost a superstar, presence inside the paint, and their best player. Other players like Artest, Wafer, Brooks, and Landry had stepped up their play against the Lakers. It just was not enough against Kobe Bryant and the Lakers.


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The Rockets had a legitimate chance to win a title that year. They matched up well against the Lakers in 2009 without injuries. Having T-Mac and Yao together would have been lethal. Including having Artest and Battier who were great defenders. The role players that stepped up in the playoffs were unexpected. They were still able to take the Lakers seven games. Just imagine if the Rockets had Yao and T-Mac during the playoffs.

The next team that had a great opportunity was the 2017-2018 Rockets. This team consisted of James Harden, Chris Paul, Trevor Ariza, PJ Tucker, Eric Gordon, and Clint Capela. That year the Rockets went 65-17, which was first in the Western Conference. This team lead the league in three-point attempts, 13th in the three-point percentage, and number two points. Harden and Paul looked impressive together. Individuals were worried about the combination before the season started; Bringing Paul to Houston allowed Harden to get more rest. The Rockets struggled defensively in the beginning of the season despite winning games. Even though the Rockets could score a lot, they needed to defend. The assistant coach, Jeff Bzdelik, found defensive schemes so the Rockets could perform better. This teams favorite thing to do was to attempt three-point shots every game. They were electric and fun to watch against the Golden St Warriors. At the end of the season Harden won the 2017-2018 MVP.


Rockets Chris Paul , James Harden, Clint Capela Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images


The Rockets were troubled because of Paul's injury, and the 22 missed three-point attempts in game seven. When Paul went down in game six, the Rockets were in disarray for game seven. Fans in Houston will always have the "What if" factor when it comes to game seven. This was another blown opportunity for the Rocket's franchise. That Western Conference Finals lost was very hurtful to the team and city.

The very last team that had an opportunity was the 2018-2019 Rockets. This team started off very slowly in the beginning of the season. It was very questionable because of Carmelo Anthony and the struggles on defense. During their 11-14 start, the Rockets released Anthony and Paul was dealing with another injury. While Paul was out, Harden was able to rally the Rockets during tough games. This was able to keep the Rockets alive in the Western Conference while Paul was out. Harden also reminded the league why he was the 2017-2018 MVP that season. Other players who helped the Rockets out that season was Danuel House and Austin Rivers. They were very helpful coming off the bench.

Fast forwarding to semifinals of the playoffs, the Rockets went against the Golden St. Warriors again. In game five, Kevin Durant suffered a leg injury that kept him sidelined throughout the rest of the series. Surprisingly, the Rockets could not take advantage of Durant's injuries in both games, as they lost to the Warriors again in the playoffs. It was a confusing time for fans on why the Rockets lost. They were supposed to jump on the opportunity when Durant went down. The communication between Paul and Harden was off as well, frustrating the thousands of fans watching.

Hopefully one day the Rockets pull it together.

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