Time to lean on the other guys

The James Harden streak is over, and that is a good thing for the Rockets

Kevin C. Cox

I'm glad it's over.

There. I said it.

I'm glad James Harden's streak of 30 point games ended on Monday night.

Sorry Hardenites or whatever James Harden fans are called.

I was sick of it. It's a nice personal achievement but basketball is a team sport. And it was boring. Iso ball sucks. I hated it during the Steve and Cuttino days and I hate it now.

You can't tell me that a team with one of the best point guards of all time can't move the ball around and get guys open looks. Case in point, the Warriors game. Without James, Chris Paul had 23 points and 17 assists and led a team that was overmatched talent-wise to a 118-112 win.

I'm going to divide this season into three parts. The crappy start to the season, the #unguardabletour season and the gang is back together season.

The crappy start to the season was well, crappy. Coming off the 65 win season they began this one 12-14 which was inexplicable. They just plain sucked. It's a time I would rather not dwell on. It's best to leave these things in a dark place in the deep recesses of your mind and never touch them again.

Then there was the #unguardabletour. It has its place in Rockets history. I'm not going to put it up there with all time Rockets achievements. It was a great individual achievement. James got a bunch of national media attention which was nice. They were 21-11 during that stretch which was good too but not spectacular. They did have a bunch of injuries which meant they had to rely on James to carry the load. He did.

Those days are over and they are healthy again playing better basketball. Since the All-Star break and the return of Clint Capela and the resurgence of Chris Paul they look different. They look cohesive offensively. They look like a winner and they're doing it with James struggling, further proof that they are better playing team basketball as opposed to iso ball.

The win over the Warriors without James was eye opening. No they're not better without James but they have proven this past week that they are not nearly as reliant on him as was previously thought.

In their last three games they beat the Warriors without James and they beat the Hawks and Hornets while James was less than stellar. These past two games while the Rockets were scoring 119 and 118 points James has shot just 34% from the field and under 10% from 3. He's made just 1 of his last 21 three-point attempts. That's bad. Real bad.

Yet the other guys are picking him up. Against the Hornets the other guys shot 52%. Against the Hawks 46%. That's really good. This notion that James has to do it all himself has got to change. He doesn't, not with a heathy supporting cast. They can make shots if you put them in position and give them opportunities to make shots. When you only get a couple shots a game it's hard to get into any kind of rhythm. The more shots you get the better the chance you'll make them.

Plus it's just more fun to watch. James dribbling out the shot clock at the top of the key is brutal. It's not going to end but they can cut back on it and let Chris Paul drive and distribute. He's making $40 million a year for a reason.

I'm not saying they're last year's team. They're different. They're different than they were two weeks ago. And that's a good thing.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

Photo via: WikiCommons.

This week the NASCAR cup series heads to the world center of racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, for the inaugural fourth of July version of the Brickyard 400. This is unprecedented for NASCAR considering over the course of 50 years they are usually in Daytona around this time. While this move was met with a lot of criticism from fans, there is a positive to come from this move though, as the sport will hold their first doubleheader with Indycar. This has been talked about for many years and now it has finally come to fruition. Another new facet of this weekend will be the Xfinity Series running on the road course configuration. This could very well lead to the cup series transitioning from the oval to the road course next season should everything go well when the Xfinity series does it. It will definitely be an interesting weekend.

Last week, Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin dominated the first-ever doubleheader at Pocono. The two drivers finished first and second in both races with Harvick taking race one and Hamlin winning race two. Both of these races came down to pit-road strategy as Harvick was able to eke out a victory by taking two tires and fuel while his teammate Aric Almirola took four. The next day Denny Hamlin pretty much had the whole field covered as he went on to claim his fourth victory of the season. Overall, the idea of two races in a weekend went over well but for the racing itself, it was hard to watch. One of the main issues I had was how the drivers didn't have to shift this week. In my opinion, that was what made this track so unique. It was an oval that had road course characteristics and it usually produced some pretty good finishes. Hopefully this will be addressed when the new car makes its debut in 2022.

One of the big stories going into this week is the announcement a couple of weeks ago that NASCAR will be moving their all-star event to Bristol Motor Speedway. Over the past couple of weeks, there has been a whirlwind of news from the Bubba Wallace story at Talladega, to the doubleheader races last week. A lot of this has put this announcement on the back burner but this is a huge story. The race will be held on Wednesday, July 15th as NASCAR continues with midweek races. This is the first time since 1986 that the race will not be run at NASCAR's home track in Charlotte back when it took place at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The format will be pretty much the same as all the winners from 2019 and 2020 will all have an automatic birth into the race while the rest of the field will run in the open event the day before. The main event will feature four stages including a 15 lap closer around one of NASCAR's most popular race tracks. I think this move was long overdue and I hope that they continue with it in the future. Don't get me wrong, there isn't anything wrong with the race at Charlotte but I think a change of pace would be welcomed. I look forward to seeing how this turns out.

As we move on to Indy this weekend, the driver I have winning is Kurt Busch. This weekend will be the 2004 Cup Series champion's 700th career start, and he's won just about every race that there is to be won except this one here at the Brickyard. This week, that is going to change. It hasn't been the most consistent season for the Vegas native, but he still sits tenth in points and right in the thick of the playoff battle. This track isn't his best as he currently has a 19.42 average finish, including a dismal 30th place finish last year. But this week, I think he gets back on track with a victory as he starts second. The veteran has flown under the radar this year, but he has definitely shown spurts where we think he is going to break-out. He also has runs where it seems like him and his team are mid-pack, but there aren't many drivers out there that have the experience he has. And a talented driver like him always finds a way to bounce back. Look for Kurt Busch to take the #1 Monster Energy Camaro to victory lane.

All stats and information used in this article are brought to you by the good folks at driveraverages.com and Racing-Reference.com, the best websites for all NASCAR stats.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome