Is it time to give up?

Was pairing James Harden with Russell Westbrook a bad idea?


James Harden and Russell Westbrook have not been on the same page at all this season. They have struggled to be efficient. Is it time for something new?

When the season began, Harden looked unstoppable on the court. Harden was able to average up close to 40 points per game earlier this season. Westbrook on the other hand, was still trying to figure things out. At times, he looked skittish on the basketball court with Harden. Westbrook found it real hard to find his own shot in the beginning of the season. Even though Westbrook was averaging 21.5 points per game, he was still forcing shoots and looked like a bystander. It almost felt like Westbrook was a weak link to Harden...

Recently, things have reversed between the two. Harden has not played his best basketball since January 3rd against the Philadelphia 76ers. He is also shooting 35% from the field in January. Harden is even taking fewer shots this month. Is he losing confidence in his shot? Suddenly, Westbrook has turned things around for the month of January. He is playing at better pace than Harden is right now. Westbrook is shooting the ball at 52.8% from the field this month; which is great. The Rockets have also been relying on Westbrook instead of Harden late in games this month.

How come these two are not on the same page? This team has struggled because of that. When Harden and Westbrook sat out Monday night against the Utah Jazz, the whole entire Rocket's team played great basketball. Eric Gordon was able to go off for a career high 50 points. Danuel House and Austin Rivers both went off for 21 points each as well that night. Was Harden and Westbrook the problem?

Watching this team struggle against the Portland Trail Blazers Wednesday night is questionable. Westbrook was able to have a good night by shooting 55% from the field and scoring 31 points. While Harden was struggling from the field by shooting 27% and scoring 18 points Wednesday night.

Honestly, it feels like the Rockets are struggling with these two on the same floor. Harden and Westbrook cannot even play the correct way on the court. Should one of them go so the team can succeed? The trade deadline is approaching for Daryl Morey.

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

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