James Harden is out of Houston, and his former teammates seem to be completely OK with that.
After the game, John Wall — the point guard Harden reportedly didn’t want to play with — was asked what has changed since the beginning of the season. Wall stated the obvious, that it’s hard to play as a team when your star is shuffling for the exit:
Wall on what has changed since the season opener in Portland: "The team wasn’t where we wanted to be and we had people that didn’t want to be here. So it’s kind of hard to play through that. Once the trade happened, we got the team that we wanted and guys that wanted to be here."
— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) January 29, 2021
Before the Harden trade, the Rockets were one of the most chaotic teams in the NBA. Harden was still posting big numbers and had playoff-level talent around him, but all that translated to was a 3-6 record and Harden openly saying the situation was unfixable.
Rockets’ new roster is starting to work
The Rockets’ win over the Blazers provided some reason to believe the Rockets, now 8-9, can still make a playoff run.
Wall had 20 points and six assists. Oladipo led the team with 25 points. Christian Wood, the team’s biggest free agent acquisition, had 22 points and 12 rebounds. The whole team held the Blazers — sixth in the NBA in offensive rating entering Thursday — to 101 points.
Houston’s defense has looked like a new unit since Harden’s departure, ranking first in the NBA in defensive rating in that span according to StatMuse. Under new head coach Stephen Silas, the Rockets seem to be coming together:
"It's been great comin' to Houston. I feel like all of us are on the same page and we all have something to prove."
Victor Oladipo and the Rockets are motivated.
(via @NBAonTNT) pic.twitter.com/5bNNcAWK5Q
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) January 29, 2021
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