ROCKET LAUNCH

The Beard is back!

Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

At 8:38 pm on Tuesday, it was confirmed that Harden had made it to Orlando, Florida. After sitting a couple of days out because of the protocol, Harden was able practice on Thursday.

Harden leads the league in scoring by averaging 34.4 points per game. The NBA's bubble has Harden ranked number four on Orlando's campus. Harden coming back to practice has caused the intensity to go up. The Rockets love Harden's leadership and communication.

"It changes everything. He's our captain. He runs the ship. Intensity goes up. Level of play goes up," P.J. Tucker said. "He raises the stakes every time he steps on the floor. That's what we love about him. That's what we love about him. Win, lose, draw, we know what we're going to get from 13."

Everything about Harden looked the same in practice according to Rockets' Ben McLemore. Harden loved giving his teammates a hard time in practice by challenging and trash talking them.

"The world knows, no matter what's going on, James Harden loves to hoop," as Harden told the media. "In practice, I was doing a lot of trash talking, which is usual. PJ, he's a dog. He brings the same intensity."

His main objective is getting this team championship ready. Harden wants the same intensity from each player on the Rockets every practice. As the leader of this team, he holds himself accountable.

Harden even touched on social justice issues and George Floyd. He loved the protest that happened in the city of Houston. Harden wants to make sure the name he chooses for the back of his jersey is thought out carefully.

"The way the city rallied, it was amazing. I think the world saw it. How so many people could come together. Obliviously it was for a tragic reason. The marching and everything we're standing for is very powerful," Harden said. "I'm in the process of figuring out if I'm going to put a message on my back or another to deliver my message, but somehow my message is going to get across."

The Rockets first game is against the Dallas Mavericks on July 31.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

Another tough loss for Houston. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images.

The Houston Texans lost again as their road game ineptitude continues. Former Texans stars DeAndre Hopkins and J.J. Watt helped the Cardinals to the 31-5 victory.

1. The lack of talent is getting exposed earlier and earlier each week. The Texans have seen games slip away faster and faster from them each week. The team is overmatched almost everywhere.

2. Penalties remain a problem for the Texans. It seems like clockwork the team gets an illegal motion or illegal formation each week. Jordan Akins torpedoed a drive with a chop block. Max Scharping erased a positive play with a hold.

3. Davis Mills had some solid moments, but again, this team isn't good. It is hard to assess Mills with this team. He's making quicker decisions but he doesn't have the time or the players to make big plays.

4. The offensive line stinks. The interior of the line is still a mess and with Laremy Tunsil down the edges find themselves shaky as well. The running backs don't block well. The blocking tight ends don't block well. It is bad football in what was supposed to be a much-improved unit.

5. Desmond King was the best returner in the preseason. The team elected to give Andre Roberts an opportunity for a few games, but with his departure, the duties went to King. King is the most successful returner the Texans have had in a long while. Yes, it is that clear after just one game.

6. Max Scharping was benched in favor of Justin McCray. McCray produced similar levels of success. Scharping was benched last year for a journey-man veteran as well. The former second-round pick isn't getting it done.

7. Speaking of former second-round picks, Lonnie Johnson had an interception. That was the highlight of his day. Otherwise, Johnson frequently has me asking "what is Lonnie Johnson doing?" The former second-round pick at cornerback has been less than impressive at safety. Johnson seems to frequently be out of position or making the wrong choice in coverage.

8. DeAndre Hopkins had a solid day against the team that traded him away. Hopkins hauled in seven catches for 53 yards and a touchdown. After he scored, Hopkins looked to bring his hands together and mimic a prayer motion. I don't anticipate this was a nod to Arian Foster but perhaps could this have been about Jack Easterby?

9. The Texans had some sacks, but little of that action came when the game was close. Jonathan Greenard added two sacks to his total. The success Greenard is having is frustrating when you consider he couldn't get on the field last season. Charles Omenihu returned to action and had some pressures for the defense.

10. During the game reports surfaced that the Panthers might be interested in trading for Deshaun Watson. It was also reported by the Houston Chronicle Watson had vetoed a trade to Philadelphia, so the Eagles will not be involved in the Watson sweepstakes. The Panthers can only trade two first-round picks. The Miami Dolphins have three first-round picks they can trade for Deshaun Watson.

11. The Texans decided on a "culture" head coach in David Culley. His team has looked lifeless on the road. While the Texans took their beating, the Lions gave it their all against a good Rams team. Detroit is winless, but they play harder and better than the Texans. It grows clearer each week "culture" is meaningless if the team can't win.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome