Monday, May 10, 2021

John Wall takes not-so-subtle (but quite fair) blow to James Harden after Rockets win

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John Wall wants everyone to know the Rockets are going to be okay without James Harden. In fact, it seems they prefer it that way.

Houston’s 104-101 win over Portland on Thursday night extended its current winning streak to four games, keeping the Rockets firmly in the Western Conference playoff table. Wall, who had 20 points, six assists and five rebounds against the Trail Blazers, noted that the culture was very different since a former MVP was traded to the Nets.

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“The team was not where we wanted to be, and we had people who didn’t want to be here,” Wall said. “So it’s a little hard to play through that and try to find some chemistry. Once we got that done, and then we made the trades, we got the team we wanted and the guys who wanted to be here.

“Once we’ve all committed to what we want to do, we’ll be a good team.”

It is difficult to dispute Wall’s assessment, which was in line with his previous comments about the Harden situation. When the top player doesn’t show up to training camp on time, ignores health and safety protocols, and shows no interest in working on his conditioning or relationships with new teammates, it is impossible to create a positive environment.

No one could reasonably say that the Rockets should have a higher odds of winning the NBA Championship than the Nets, but they have played much better since the removal of “The Beard”.

Take a look at the numbers before and after Harden left Houston:

Victor Oladipo, who is averaging 22.4 points per game since being acquired by the Rockets in the hit deal, said to the crew “NBA on TNT” that the Houston experience has been “great” so far. The Rockets seem to be comfortable flying under the radar without a superstar.

“It feels like we’re all on the same page, and we all have something to prove, and we all want to win,” said Oladipo. “Once you have the same mindset and put together a bunch of guys, special things can happen.”

As Wall mentioned, it helps when everyone on the team really wants to be there.



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