James Harden’s MVP performance proves to be enough for Houston to weather a late Charlotte Hornets run and walk away with the 121-114 victory.
Harden dropped a second straight triple-double and made everyone on Houston look dangerous. With Just two Rockets’ players ending up with fewer than 10 points. The Charlotte Hornets trailed by as many as 20 points in Houston, but an 18-0 run late in the fourth handed them the 111-110 lead before the final two minutes.
A quick assist to Ryan Anderson for the triple, followed by a haunting driving layup put an exclamation on the Rockets ninth straight victory.
Despite the loss, the Hornets’ bench was led by Frank Kaminsky and Spencer Hawes as the second unit stepped up and gave Charlotte a shot in this one.
The Beard Bullies Charlotte
I think we can all agree. The MVP is now a two horse race.
James Harden kept the pressure on Russell Westbrook after pouring in 40 points, 15 rebounds, and 10 assists against the Hornets, his second straight 40-10-10 performance. Harden became the fourth player ever to accomplish that feat and voters around the league have to be taking notice.
The Beard looked absolutely unstoppable against Charlotte. His ability to bait the defense with drives to the hoop, only to kick it out to snipers like Trevor Ariza and Anderson gave Charlotte headaches all night. Just look at this dish he lays on Anderson after sucking in two Hornet defenders at the top of the key.
Ridiculous feeds like that happened far too regularly. The thing is he is just as dangerous near the basket so there is no clear way to stop his production. Harden has been a designated point guard for a little over three months, and he’s already rewriting what it means to play the position.
Spencer Hawes is the Hornets’ true backup center and needs to be treated as such on the depth chart. The Washington product dropped in 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting against the Rockets; he added five rebounds and four assists to round out his stat line.
Roy Hibbert got the start with Cody Zeller out sick, but never really got into the flow of the game. Hibbert ended up playing six fewer minutes than Hawes, ending up with four points on two attempts from the floor.
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Hawes is a big marksman who is crafty in the lane and has the ability to make quick passes to open shooter. Hibbert can’t do any of those things, and sadly, in today’s NBA that makes him irrelevant.
Frank Kaminsky is having an up and down season, to say the least, but his 22 point showcase against Houston was his best showing since being drafted by the Hornets. The former Wisconsin Badger shot 57% from the floor and looked supremely confident in his three-point shot. This wide-open look that gave Charlotte their first lead had that confidence on full display.