James Harden, Chris Paul had verbal back-and-forth after Rockets’ Game 6 loss to Warriors about ball distribution
The Houston Rockets were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs by the eventual Western Conference champions, the Golden State Warriors. After losing the series in Game 6, the Rockets’ backcourt duo of James Harden and Chris Paul reportedly had a heated verbal exchange regarding ball movement or lack thereof in that game, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
“But Harden and Paul had tense moments with one another throughout Game 6, culminating in a verbal back-and-forth postgame that went into the locker room, sources with knowledge of the situation told The Athletic. Sources said the verbal exchange between Harden and Paul was regarding the ball distribution throughout Game 6. By the time the remainder of the locker room was ready to talk, Paul and Harden had gone their separate ways, with Paul swiftly making his way to the postgame podium. The Rockets dispensed with exit interviews this year, so the media hasn’t been able to ask Paul or Harden about the disappointment.”
The Rockets only had 21 assists in the game, and although the Warriors barely had the advantage in that department (25), the fact that Harden and Paul had 11 of the team’s assists may have started the verbal altercation.
Of course, CP3 is known to be a pass-first point guard. He thrives in a system that prioritizes ball movement. However, with most of the Rockets’ players being inconsistent throughout the course of the series, Harden had to carry much of the offensive load for the team, meaning he had to take it upon himself to keep Houston alive in the playoffs.
Harden is an excellent passer. He averaged 7.5 dimes in the playoffs, which is probably the reason why Paul was upset. He knew the reigning MVP can rack up assists if he wanted to, but he didn’t.
This is not an indication that the Rockets will fall apart though, and should be treated as nothing but a minor altercation between two players who just wanted to win.