In today’s NBA, fewer defensive tasks match the difficulty of checking Rockets All-Star James Harden. His handle is so smooth it's hypnotic. His threat of his driving pushes some opponents back on their heels, while his potential to step back into a clean jumper baits others into over-aggressive pursuit.
On balance, these tools fuel the production of one of the best offensive players in the league. In this particular case, Harden’s complete creative game came together to make a fool of Minnesota’s Ricky Rubio:
To Rubio’s credit, he gets back on his feet quickly enough to almost get in Harden’s way. He’s just a moment too late; by the time Rubio recovers to Harden’s step-back, his three-pointer is up and away.
Harden finished the game with a triple-double. He had 31 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists during the Rockets' 113-102 win over the Timberwolves.