The hype that was behind the match-up between the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder was massive immediately after James Harden was traded from the Thunder to the Rockets early during the 2012-2013 NBA season. This trade definitely caught the attention of the NBA world, and especially the sports bettors. According to Bovada sports betting, the trade of Harden to the Thunder affected betting odds and has definitely given the Rockets a better shot at a potential playoff showing.
Affect on Harden’s Game
Since Harden was traded to Houston, he’s become a scoring machine and has really shown that when given the chance to start that he can have a major impact. So far this season Harden is averaging 24.5 points per game, 5.3 assists per game, and 4.2 rebounds per game. Say what you will about Harden and his game, but he’s a serious contender for the scoring title this season, which is something that his ex-teammate, Kevin Durant, is always a favorite for. Harden also has the addition of new point guard Jeremy Lin, who is more than happy the dish the ball off to the open player.
Harden went from a team that featured multiple scorers and had quite a few mouths to feed (including two very hungry ones in Durant and Russell Westbrook) to a team that wanted him as their featured scorer. While Harden is an offensive threat whenever he gets the ball, he was still coming off of the bench for the Thunder and not getting nearly as many chances as people felt that he deserved. Now with the Rockets though, he’ll have more shots than he’ll know what to do with, and this really is he and Jeremy Lin’s offense.
Durant and Company Handle the Rockets and Harden
Wednesday featured the first time that these two teams met since the Harden trade. The hype behind the game was definitely buzzing, and when all was said and done, the Rockets weren’t able to do enough to get it done against Oklahoma City on the road. It is worth noting that the Rockets had a long day as they went to support their head coach Kevin McHale in a tough time as his daughter passed away. They flew into Oklahoma City earlier today for this game.
In the end, Harden ended up struggling quite a bit in front of his old fans, as he went 3-16 from the field, ended with 17 points, and as assistant coach Kelvin Sampson said, he forced it a little bit. On the other side though, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, and ex-Rocket Kevin Martin all had strong games. Durant scored 37, Ibaka scored 23, Martin scored 17, and Westbrook had 14 points with 9 assists. The fans gave Harden the standing ovation that he occurred before the game, but when the game got going he was immediately the enemy, which is simply how it should have been.
The Thunder and Rockets will meet again at the end of December, on Saturday the 29th, and this time the game will be in Houston.