The San Antonio Spurs came away with a huge Game 6 win over the Houston Rockets on Thursday night, dominating James Harden’s squad without Tony Parker or Kawhi Leonard. The Spurs wound up winning by 39 points to move on to the Western Conference Finals, where they’ll meet the Golden State Warriors.
One of the main reasons for the Spurs’ shockingly dominant win was that Harden finished the game with 10 points (2-for-11 shooting), three rebounds and seven assists to go along with six turnovers. It was a complete meltdown on his part, and on Friday’s episode of “Undisputed,” Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe shared their thoughts.
Harden had the biggest meltdown since LeBron in 2011
“This was the biggest superstar meltdown we have witnessed since LeBron James in the 2011 NBA Finals. No Kawhi Leonard. No Tony Parker – both of whom were NBA Finals MVPs. All the pressure was on the home team to hold serve with no Kawhi and get it back to San Antonio for Game 7. And right on cue, James Harden unraveled under that pressure. Couldn’t even take a shot for the first quarter and a half. And the truth is, it was pretty predictable. James Harden has always had some LeBron in him. When the lights are brightest and the stakes are highest, he tends to shrink or melt under that pressure.
"I don’t even call it choking in Harden’s case because choking is what happens when you miss a last-second shot. This is big picture. This is disappearing, shrinking melting. Getting smaller and smaller.
"It was a continuation of Game 5, when, down the stretch, fourth quarter, no Kawhi Leonard, what happened? James Harden disappeared. … In overtime he got blanked, missed all three of his 3s and had three game-turning turnovers. This has been the history of James Harden, and people can’t see the history because they get blinded by the beard. The beard will shrink when the stakes are highest."
Getty ImagesGetty Images
The Rockets thought they had an easy win
“[The Rockets] looked at it like, ‘Kawhi isn’t playing. Oh, we got this.’ Either Kawhi Leonard – the best player in the NBA – doesn’t play in San Antonio, or the Western Conference isn’t as strong as people say it is.
"This is a bigger meltdown than what LeBron did for the simple fact that – if Dirk had been out, and LeBron melted down – then we could’ve said ‘OK.’ But Skip, with Kawhi Leonard out – a guy that’s in the MVP discussion, a top-five player in the NBA – not only was he out this game, but he was out all of overtime and about five minutes of the fourth quarter."
Tim WarnerGetty Images
It reminded me of Kobe trying to prove he wasn't a ballhog
"James Harden in the last two games, had more turnovers himself than the Spurs had as a team in Games 5 and 6. When you do that, you don’t even give yourself an opportunity to get a foul. You don’t even give yourself an opportunity to attempt to get the ball in the basket. I’ve never seen anything like this, Skip. It reminded me of – remember when everybody said Kobe’s a ballhog and he shoots too much and he tried to prove a point in Phoenix and wouldn’t take a shot and was just passing it? It was almost like that.
"Skip, 95 to 97 percent of the blame goes to James Harden. He didn’t foul out the entire year. He fouled out in this game. How do you foul out on 11 attempts? You’re not being aggressive."
Skip Bayless: “Psychologically, emotionally, you’ve just unraveled. You’ve come apart. The pressure, really it was just on James Harden. Who thought the Spurs should have any chance in that game?”
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY SportTom Szczerbowski
Harden was made for the regular season
“James Harden was made for the regular season. Game in and game out, no one can get to the rim as easily – Russell Westbrook’s right there with him – but no one can glide to the rim and lay it up softly off the glass the way James can. And he can shoot 3s a little better than Westbrook.
"In the end, to me, James Harden is a little more Internet mystique than reality. All I care about is what you do in the postseason. The other thing is fine because it affects your seeding. But after that, can you rise and shine when the lights are the brightest? If you really study his resume in the postseason, it’s woefully less than it should be because if you look at his stats, they were significantly down from his regular-season stats. Made for the regular season. Made for the magazine cover because he’s got a great beard."
Troy TaorminaTroy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
I'm not surprised the Spurs won that series
“Am I surprised the Spurs won? No, I thought they would win. Nobody saw this. Ten from Danny Green, and you mentioned Jonathan Simmons and Patty Mills. What we should’ve saw was in Game 5, they shot 36 percent from the field, 29 percent from 3. It’s feast or famine for them. if those 3s are going in, they’re going to blow you out. The problem that they have, is once Nene got hurt, they don’t have a guy that if they’re struggling from the outside, that they can dump it inside to and say, ‘OK, go get me a basket.’
"Golden State had that problem last year. If they weren’t making their 3s, they didn’t have anybody they could dump the ball down to and get them a basket. But guess what they got now? They got that 7-foot long guy, that not only could shoot a three but can post you up."