After failing to negotiate the terms of a contract extension, the Sixth Man of The Year, James Harden, was traded to the Houston Rockets before the start of the season. Last night, Harden returned to Oklahoma City to play against his former team.
Before the game, Harden was chatting and exchanging jokes with his former teammates, but after the tip off it was all business. The Thunder made a concerted effort to disrupt Harden’s offensive game by going after his shots. Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka had two great blocks on Harden early in the first quarter, and you could tell Harden would be in for a tough night. Harden got his shot blocked 7 times on the night.
Despite shooting 3-16 from the field, Harden still managed to scrap together 17 points by going 9-11 at the free throw line. He is currently leading the league in free throws made, at 8.2 per game.
Harden was also part of a controversial play, after which Thunder’s Hasheem Thabeet was ejected. However, after reviewing the incident, the officials decided to rescind the ejection, and Thabeet made his way back to the game. The 7 ft 3 center has shown improvement this year and received a standing ovation by the OKC fans as came back from the locker room.
Kevin Durant led the way for OKC with 37 points, while Serge Ibaka had a monster game as well, scoring 23 points, grabbing 9 rebounds and blocking 6 shots. Patterson was the leading scorer for Houston with 27. Daequan Cook was also part of the James Harden trade package and scored 18 points in his return.
Harden currently ranks 5th in the league in scoring at 24.5 points per game.
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