James Harden Perfectly Summed Up His Game 7 Performance With a Curse on Live TV

In Thursday’s Hot Clicks: James Harden comes up big on defense, Mets legend Tom Seaver dies and more.
Publish date:

He’s not wrong

Don’t say James Harden doesn’t play defense. With his clutch play on D in the closing moments of Game 7 between the Rockets and Thunder, it’s likely Houston would have been the team heading home. 

Down by one with a one-second difference between the shot and game clock, OKC had trouble organizing in the offensive end to get a good look at a potential game-winner. With about five seconds left, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander found a wide-open Luguentz Dort on the left wing. Harden, who had been guarding Steven Adams in the paint, sprinted out to meet Dort as he hoisted a three-point attempt and got the block. 

Equally impressive was the way Harden played dodgeball to avoid letting Dort throw the ball out of bounds off of him. It was one clutch play that made up for a disappointing night on the offensive end for Harden. He finished with just 17 points (fourth most on the team, behind Robert Covington, Eric Gordon and Russell Westbrook) on 4-of-15 shooting. He made just one of his nine three-point attempts and turned the ball over four times, though he did have nine assists. 

In his on-court interview after the game, Harden issued an unguarded assessment of his play: “Offensively, I played like s---. Excuse my language, but I couldn’t make a shot, turned the ball over, just doing everything that was not supposed to happen.”

Harden has been criticized for his lack of defensive effort for years. You can find several YouTube compilations of Harden acting like a matador, but he’s more than capable of turning it on when he needs to. The final two seconds of a Game 7 is a great time to do that.

“James has been playing defense,” Westbrook told reporters after Game 7. “I think if media and people actually look at the numbers—since you guys like to look at numbers—look at them and then you'll get your answers. James defends."

The best of SI

After the death of Tom Seaver, it’s worth revisiting Tom Verducci’s story from October on Seaver and the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Mets. ... Predicting all 256 games of the NFL season. ... Making sense of the biggest NBA playoff story lines. ... Nonstars who could swing a series in a NBA playoffs.

Around the sports world

A retiree from Vermont figured out that anybody can submit nominations for the Pro Football Hall of Fame and sent in Colin Kaepernick’s name. ... The Intercollegiate obtained athlete conduct manuals from 52 Division I universities and uncovered wild policies like Dabo Swinney’s rules about hair and several bans on interteam dating. ... After previously saying it would allow 25,000 fans at its home football opener, Iowa State is now closing the game to fans. ... The Pirates are going to wear Roberto Clemente’s No. 21 for a game next week

Keith Hernandez reacts to the death of Tom Seaver

Dort came out of nowhere to score 30

Ridiculous call on Dragic

Kirk Cousins expands on his “If I die, I die” comments

I’d watch a whole TV show of Andrew McCutchen doing this

The Red Sox are going to be a bunch of nobodies next year

Cycling fans are an interesting bunch

I don’t know what I find so funny about this Joel Embiid tweet about his own commercial

Now you can hear the dulcet tones of Vin Scully on social media

Not sports

The Jackie Robinson biopic 42 is being rereleased in theaters after the death of Chadwick Boseman. ... A 770-pound crocodile was captured in Australia. ... The crew of Mission: Impossible 7 is in hot water for its use of cruise ships in Norway. ... Pilots on planes flying into LAX spotted a man flying a jetpack 3,000 feet up. ... An Italian couple was forced into quarantine after attempting to sail to what they thought that was the edge of the world

The man has a point

David Blaine’s latest stunt was floating up 25,000 feet by hanging onto some balloons

A good song

Email dan.gartland@si.com with any feedback or follow me on Twitter for approximately one half-decent baseball joke per week. Bookmark this page to see previous editions of Hot Clicks and find the newest edition every day. By popular request I’ve made a Spotify playlist of the music featured here. Visit our Extra Mustard page throughout each day for more offbeat sports stories.