Tuesday, April 23, 2024
spot_img

James Harden explains bizarre block attempt on Kawhi Leonard: ‘I was trying to bring excitement to this team’

A point guard’s job is to make his teammates’ shots easier. James Harden has spent his career doing this. He has won an MVP, led the NBA in assists and earned a lot of money for a lot of teammates through his remarkable passing. For parts of this season, that playmaking acumen has helped the Clippers play like a true championship contender. On Wednesday, however, Harden took the opposite approach.

Rather than giving Kawhi Leonard an easy 3-point attempt from the corner, Harden went out of his way to make the look harder. With the Clippers leading the Trail Blazers 81-60, Harden passed the ball to Leonard and decided to follow that pass to the corner and throw up an arm seemingly in an attempt to contest the very shot he’d created. Leonard, either due to Harden’s odd choice or random shooting variance, missed the look.

Harden attempted to explain the decision after the Clippers’ 116-103 victory in Portland. “I was trying to bring some excitement to this team,” Harden said. “I think these last few weeks have been a fog for us. I think every team goes through it. So I think it was just me trying to create energy, create a great vibe for this team. Maybe it would’ve been better if he had made the shot, but give them something to laugh about, some excitement.”

The Clippers certainly needed some sort of vibe shift. They entered Wednesday’s game at 8-10 in their past 18 games. After looking like a possible No. 1 seed in the Western Conference through December and January, they are now in danger of slipping all the way to fifth. Still, on the rare occasions we’ve seen plays like this, they’ve come from teams with a bit more breathing room.

In 2019, for instance, LeBron James jokingly attempted to block a layup from teammate Rajon Rondo. There were a few key differences in that play. First, as it was a layup, James could be reasonably certain that he wouldn’t take Rondo’s points off of the board. Second, James was jokingly retaliating because Rondo had faked a lob pass to him on that very play. Third, and perhaps most importantly, the Lakers were 23-3 when this occurred.

In a 21-point game against one of the worst teams in the NBA, a single moment like this isn’t likely to change an outcome. Harden himself said after the game that he got the fun moment for his teammates that he was looking for. But a 21-point lead is hardly secure in the modern NBA. Less than a month ago, the Clippers blew a 21-point lead to the Lakers and lost a game they should have easily won. If there’s a time and place for attempting to block your own teammate, it probably isn’t in the middle of the third quarter in a game that is still conceivably losable, especially for a team that isn’t playing its best basketball at the moment.

Related articles

Share article

Latest articles

Newsletter

Subscribe to stay updated.