Lillard Comes Through in the Clutch, Harden Makes MVP Claim
The Golden State Warriors had a two point lead on Thursday night with just 15.4 seconds remaining overtime. At 109-107, you’d expect them, the two time defending champions, to be able to get the ball in, get fouled, and then make two free throws to nearly salt the game away. Instead, the Portland Trail Blazers tipped the rebound and flew down the court with the ball. Damian Lillard was at the head of the charge, blazing a trail straight to the basket, but he was cut off. He was forced to give the ball up, nearly away, as he continued to run. He got the ball back right away and sunk a three pointer. A dagger to the heart of the Warriors to give his team a 110-109 win. From there, the Warriors turned to Kevin Durant with five seconds left. The lanky forward drove to the basket but was harassed the entire time as he missed his shot and the Blazers had won. It’s the 13th loss of the season for the Warriors now, putting them at 23-13. Is this team cracking or will they be fine when playoffs roll around? That’s the debate right now. As for the Blazers, they had a great performance. Their own Curry, Seth, scored 11 points in a row at one stage of the fourth quarter to get them into this situation, while center Jusuf Nurkic’s 27 points paced them. He also was the man that tipped the ball and allowed Lillard to score the go-ahead three.
In Houston, the Rockets were being led, yet again, by a ridiculous scoring performance by James Harden. With Chris Paul on the sidelines, the Beard has had to step up his game even more, and as a result of that, the Rockets have turned around their season after a woeful start to it. With the Boston Celtics visiting, you’d have expected a big game feel, and that’s what we got. Harden made it very clear, both during and after the game, that he should be a part of the MVP discussion come the end of the season. On court, he scored 45 points for the home team as they ran out to a comfortable 127-113 win over the Celtics. The C’s got 23 points from Kyrie Irving, but there was no repeat of his Christmas day heroics. Instead, it was Harden’s night. It was the eighth win from the last nine for the Rockets, the eighth time he has scored 30 or more in the run, and was the third time in his last six he has scored 40 or more. During this nine game stretch, he is averaging over 39 points per a game, a remarkable stat for someone that has taken on more responsibility and will- or at least should- have extra defensive pressure upon his shoulders.
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