Video: Rockets star James Harden gets undercut on a 3-point shot by Isaiah Thomas
The Houston Rockets soundly beat the Cleveland Cavaliers Saturday night, 120-88. It was a one-sided affair for the most part of the contest in favor of the Rockets, who thoroughly ripped apart Cleveland’s defense that looked as sturdy as a wet paper bag. The Rockets were barely threatened by Cleveland, and they probably got scared more by the sight of James Harden’s right foot landing awkwardly on Isaiah Thomas’ left foot during a three-point shot attempt.
In the possession, Harden couldn’t have gotten a better look. He essentially got the switch he wanted and was defended by Thomas, who is one of the worst defenders in the NBA. Though, Isaiah Thomas contested Harden’s shot, while jumping forward in his space. That resulted in Harden coming down on Thomas’ foot, hurting his ankle in the process. Fortunately, Harden wasn’t badly shaken up by the play and remained in the game. Still, plays like this are unacceptable in the NBA. By the looks of this possession, it appears that Thomas inadvertently got inside of Harden’s landing zone, but that’s not a viable excuse.
The NBA rule of thumb is for players to jump straight up to contest jump-shots. Not only is this legal, but it protects players from unnecessary contact both in the air and while landing. One infamous case of a similar play was when Zaza Pachulia undercut Kawhi Leonard in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. The play re-aggravated Leonard’s ankle injury, keeping him out for the rest of the series.
Similarly, James Harden has a purpose this season. The Rockets’ main goal is to defeat the Warriors and win a championship. In a worst-case scenario, a major injury to Harden could have halted those plans. Hopefully, Harden is fine and plays like this are not repeated in the future.
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