James Harden: Rockets 'in this together; I can't do it by myself'

Drew Shiller
NBC Sports BayArea

On Tuesday, James Harden spoke with reporters.

He was pretty upbeat and talked about the Rockets needing to clean up some defensive breakdowns heading into Game 2.

The likely MVP also mentioned how he and his squad need to keep their "swag" and confidence high despite losing Game 1.

Did he speak with teammates about maintaining that attitude?

"Yeah, yesterday I called guys. After the game I called guys," Harden said. "You can just tell as a leader when guys aren't happy or when guys aren't moving or having the same swag. So I just called guys to see how they're feeling.

"Some of the guys, it's their first time being here, but I know how hard they worked to get to this position so I want to make sure they're good and in a good place. And all the guys seem happy and motivated."

Hmmmmmm. When Harden said "guys aren't happy" is he referring specifically to Eric Gordon?

On Monday night, the Rockets' sixth man said the following to Marc Spears of The Undefeated:

"I definitely would like to get the ball more for me to be aggressive and get good looks. Offensively with everybody, we really don't get real good looks ... we can't isolate as much against a good defensive team. I don't care who you are."

Speaking of looks, it's not a good look for Houston for comments like that to surface after just one game in the Western Conference Finals.

Harden was then asked a follow-up question: "What do you think it means for guys on this team -- role players particularly -- to hear from you after a game like that?"

"It means a lot, and it's not like it's the first time it happened," Harden said. "I called guys (during the) regular season, go eat with guys after games or what not. But it's a great feeling.

"Teammates call me because we're in this together and like, I can't do it by myself, and we need everybody to be at their top play -- whether it's CP, whether it's Eric, whether it's Tuck -- we just open up and just talk about the game, talk about things that we see, that they see from their angle.

"We can get better on things that they saw that actually worked, and figure it out."

One thing that needs to be made clear here is that when Harden said "I can't do it by myself," it wasn't delivered in a selfish context.

However, it's still an interesting choice of words.

Harden was spectacular offensively in Game 1 -- 41 points (14-for-24, 5-for-9 from 3) and seven assists.

But his defense was... absolutely awful:

Harden is right in saying the biggest adjustments for the Rockets need to be on the defensive end.

He is a big part of that...

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller


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