Thursday night belonged to James Harden, and last year’s MVP runner-up had the best all-around performance of the year.
James Harden – 35 points, 13 assists, 11 rebounds, five steals
The Houston Rockets‘ offense has been on another planet the last few games, and James Harden is the one orchestrating all of it. On Thursday, a shaky Cleveland Cavaliers defense had no one who could break Harden’s rhythm. The Rockets unleashed an aerial assault led by Harden’s six threes, but Houston had five other players score in double-digits, a testament to the Beard’s incredible playmaking ability. He lit up the Cavaliers in transition, out of the pick-and-roll and pretty much whenever he had the ball in his hand. It was his second triple-double of the year, and Chris Paul‘s injury has had no ill effects on the team.
Jrue Holiday – 34 points, 11 assists, five rebounds
It’s rare not seeing Anthony Davis or DeMarcus Cousins representing the New Orleans Pelicans. On Thursday, both of them had off nights. Holiday stepped in to pick up the slack. He sliced his way through the Toronto Raptors‘ defense, exploiting the mismatches that he saw almost every time down. Holiday was too big for Kyle Lowry and too athletic for DeMar DeRozan, and the slashing guard used an array of dribble moves and post-ups to penetrate the defense before kissing the ball off of the backboard. It was Holiday’s best game of the young season, but the Raptors still managed to come out on top.
Jeff Green – 27 points, five rebounds, three steals
Jeff Green played a fantastic game on Thursday. And that’s weird to say. Green is a serviceable offensive player, but to see him explode as he did against the Rockets is bizarre. What’s more is that 74 percent of his points came in the second quarter. Houston, much like Cleveland, has issues on defense, and Green took advantage of that. He wasn’t settling for jumpers and used his athleticism to get out in transition and create easy buckets. Unfortunately for Cleveland, he wasn’t able to sustain that beyond the second frame.
- DeMar DeRozan – 33 points, eight rebounds
- John Wall – 23 points, eight rebounds, five assists, three blocks, two steals
- Emmanuel Mudiay – 21 points, seven rebounds, five assists
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