James Harden’s past two games demonstrate how erratic his 13th season has been. On Saturday night, Harden aimlessly wandered through a disappointing home loss against the Suns, generating the type of triple double that shows how useless a triple double can be: 12 points, 13 rebounds and 14 assists to go along with seven ugly turnovers, six missed threes and only two trips to the charity stripe off a drawn foul.
Afterward, as he sat with yet another performance that lacked all the poise and self-assurance Harden has accumulated throughout his first-ballot Hall of Fame career, the 32-year-old explained why he looked like a car spinning its wheels. “I’m trying to figure it out,” Harden said. “I’m trying to figure out when to score, when to be a playmaker, when to run the offense, when to do a little bit of everything.”
Three days later we saw someone who found the cheat sheet he’d been looking for. Harden blasted through the Knicks with the same score-when-I-want confidence seen throughout his reign as a perennial MVP candidate, finishing with 34 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists.