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News » Harden bounces back

Harden bounces back

Harden bounces back
LAS VEGAS - Of all the skills and promise Thunder guard James Harden has shown in his first summer as a pro, it was what the No. 3 overall pick did in Tuesday's 74-68 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers that should be considered his most encouraging trait.

But forget all of the final numbers: the 23 points, the five assists, the five rebounds. And remember that those figures followed his four-point, three-assist, one-rebound debut in Las Vegas.

"My first game in Vegas, I didn't do so well so I wanted to come back and bounce back and be productive," Harden said.

Harden previously had no opportunity to show off his tough mind and resilient nature. Before Sunday's 86-57 loss to Memphis he had exceeded all expectations. But in Harden's seventh summer league game, he proved he has the will of a winner and enough heart to not hang his head during tough times.

They're characteristics the young Thunder will greatly need once the regular season arrives.

"You don't want to go back and say you should have done this or you should have done that," Harden said. "But I didn't play as good as I wanted to. And Coach did the right thing taking me out. So I wanted to bring the right energy and intensity that my team needed (Tuesday), and I think I did that."

Harden played just 18 minutes Sunday, partly because of a lack of intensity and partly because a fatigued Thunder squad saw the Grizzlies turn the contest into a blowout. He made just one of 5 shots, missing both of his 3-point attempts.

On Tuesday, Harden set the tone offensively with his game-high scoring total. He made nine of 14 shots and went 2-for-5 from 3-point range in 37 minutes. He also had a better defensive showing, with two steals and a handful of deflections.

"That's every good player who wants to be great," Harden said of the way he responded. "Kobe (Bryant), I'm sure if he has a bad night shooting he's going to come back and try to either score 40 or help his teammates win the game.

"I was just being a little more aggressive. I was just reading and looking before just driving, reading and just being patient and just playing James Harden Basketball."

Even while being more aggressive and methodical, Harden continued to impress with his confidence, poise and perimeter shooting. And he again showed his versatility by initiating the offense, directing traffic and defending multiple positions. It was also encouraging that Harden was effective and efficient for the second time playing without Russell Westbrook, who commanded much of the attention while playing in five of the Thunder's summer league games.

"He's complete and he's getting better," said Kyle Weaver. "He's learning a lot as well. I think he's just learning when to pick his spots, especially when he has the ball."

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: July 17, 2009


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