James Harden Seeks Cure to Shooting Woes: 'It's All About Me'
Mike D'Antoni doesn't know why James Harden has struggled so mightily from three of late. The Rockets head coach is simply surprised.
Harden had been on a historic pace from three before the calendar turned to 2020. The 2017-18 MVP averaged 5.2 made triples per game at a 38.3% clip before Jan. 1, on pace to break Steph Curry's three-point record of 402 set in 2015-16. Harden has fallen-off from three of late. He's averaging just three made triples per game in his last seven contests, shooting an abysmal 23.1% from beyond the arc. D'Antoni doesn't have an answer to Harden's woes, but he knows one thing: the cold stretch will end soon.
"To be honest, in the three-and-a-half I've been here, this is the first tough stretch [Harden] has had," D'Antoni told the media at the Toyota Center on Tuesday. "Realistically, he's going to get out of it. You don't overreact to it. ...I have no doubt two weeks from now this won't be an issue."
The Rockets' superstar began his search for answers after Monday's loss to the Thunder, hoisting threes in his uniform for roughly 30 minutes postgame. He detailed his work to regain his three-point stroke on Tuesday.
"Just sticking the landing in my shot," Harden said. "Holding my follow through. Obviously, every time you do that, the shot isn't going to go in, but you give yourself a better chance of making it. ...It's all about me."
Monday marked the nadir of Harden's brilliant 2019-20. He made just one of 17 three-point attempts, continuing one of the worst stretches in his last few seasons. The Rockets have dropped four straight, but Harden remains unconcerned. He's hit cold spells before. The only way to shake them is to keep shooting.
"I want to make every shot that I shoot. ...That's not going to happen" Harden said. "But the more you work, the more you shoot, the more confidence you gain in yourself to keep shooting those shots and doing what you do."
Harden wasn't an outlier for Houston on Monday. Non-Harden Rockets made just nine of 45 threes, including a 1-8 performance from Eric Gordon. The poor shooting effort appeared to have a cascading effect against Oklahoma City. Each miss compounded Houston's problems, with a proverbial lid on the basket in the fourth quarter. D'Antoni said "when it rains it pours" regarding the Rockets' four-game losing streak on Monday. The expression certainly applied to Houston's performance from three.
The recent slide isn't Harden's first three-point drought this season. He went 6-27 in a two-game stint in early December, though his response may give Rockets' fans optimism regarding the team's upcoming contests. Harden erupted for a combined 109 points in the next two games after his mini-slump, kicking off his best stretch of the season. The Rockets have a daunting schedule before the All-Star break, a critical time in which Harden needs to be near his best. One three may turn the tide.