Why Warriors' Steph Curry should chuckle at James Harden's complaining

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AP

Why Warriors' Steph Curry should chuckle at James Harden's complaining

Do the Rockets ever stop complaining?

The same franchise that used faulty math as the basis of a memo to the league in which it argued that officiating cost Houston the 2018 championship was back at it again Friday night, and some of the same principal offenders were at the center of the controversy.

No, not Rockets GM Daryl Morey. He has been in enough hot water as it is.

Instead, I'm referring to James Harden, who continues to only have himself to blame for the fact that his playing style isn't as enjoyed by the masses as some of his contemporaries.

The flopping, kicking, flailing and bending of the rules is annoying enough, but made worse by the fact that he gets away with it more often than not. This season, Harden is averaging 38.3 points per game, 8.0 more than anyone else in the league. He is also averaging 14.4 free-throw attempts per contest; there's only one other NBA player in double-digits, and only eight averaging at least half as many attempts. Put simply, he might not get all of the calls that he deserves -- no one does -- but he gets a friendlier whistle than almost anyone else.

And to Harden's credit, it wasn't the officiating that was at the center of his voiced complaint Friday night after the Rockets' last-minute loss to the Clippers -- although Houston didn't waste an opportunity to point out an apparent infraction by Los Angeles head coach Doc Rivers. No, it wasn't the officiating that Harden thought was unfair; rather, it was the ... defense?

Harden dished out 12 assists in the loss to go along with his game-high 37 points on 9-of-16 shooting from the field. Consequently, the Clippers threw numerous double-teams at him to try to limit his effectiveness and get the ball out of his hands -- you know, as defenses do. And even then, there were times when he caught fire and Los Angeles had no answer for him, no matter how many bodies were thrown at him. But apparently, that didn't sit well with Harden.

"The whole season they’re running doubles teams at me," Harden told media in the locker room. "I’ve never seen that in an NBA game where you’ve got really good defenders and someone else running at the top of the key. Y’all let me know the last time you’ve seen that."

All right, who wants to tell him?

By the looks of the responses to that tweet, it appears many have already done so. The last time we've seen that? Really?

The Warriors have knocked the Rockets out of the playoffs in four of the last five seasons, including twice in the conference finals. It would be understandable if it was too painful for Harden to then watch the NBA Finals, but he can't act like they didn't happen.

Need I remind you that Toronto utilized a 'Box-and-one' defense against Golden State in the Finals, a kind of defense that is sparingly used even at the collegiate level. The Raptors assigned one player to chase Steph Curry at all times while the rest of the team played a zone defense. He was never left alone, and it proved to be a very effective defensive strategy.

And it's not like that's the only instance. Far from it. Curry, like most NBA superstars, frequently has been doubled, just as Harden is now. The difference is, Curry, nor any of the NBA greats, ever complained about it, and why would they? After all, it's a sign of respect.

Harden has been to the Finals once with the Thunder, and who knows, he and the Rockets might get back there with the Warriors at least temporarily out of the way.

[RELATED: Warriors, resigned to their fate, smart to be looking ahead]

But as long as he and Houston continue to act like they're getting the short end of the stick, they're not going to get much sympathy.

Nor should they.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr offers solution for load management issues

Warriors coach Steve Kerr offers solution for load management issues

HOUSTON -- With the recent trend of star players resting causing controversy around the NBA, Warriors coach Steve Kerr has a solution that could have unintended consequences. 

"I always feel like the season could be 75 games instead of 82," Kerr said following Thursday's practice at the University of Houston. "It may not sound like much but seven fewer games during the season allow for more rest and more practice time." 

Kerr's comments come as the NBA and the Los Angeles Clippers are facing criticism for L.A. resting star forward Kawhi Leonard for a nationally-televised matchup against the Milwaukee Bucks. The decision was in line with the Clippers' policy to rest Leonard during back-to-back sets. However, the arrangement goes against the NBA's policy for teams to rest star players for national games.

Nonetheless, the league backed the Clippers, saying "he is not a healthy player under the league's rest policy, and, as such, is listed as managing a knee injury in the LA Clippers injury report."

Following Wednesday's practice, Kerr -- who has rested players in the past to preserve health during championship runs -- sympathized with coaches tasked to maintain roster health.

"Over the previous few years-- and you do it when you know your player needs it -- whether it'd be a nagging injury or fatigue, long playoff runs, all kinds of stuff," Kerr said. "Every team and every roster is unique to itself. You have to make the best decisions you can as a coach within the rules that the league provides, being in compliance with the league."

Wednesday's controversy is just the latest in the league's quest to find a balance between keeping players healthy while adhering to the demands of fans, who help the league justify its $24 billion television deal, something Kerr said could play a part in the decision to cut games. 

[RELATED: How Warriors' Paschall learned a rookie lesson from Harden]

"It also means less revenue," he said. "Everybody would have to agree to that. It affects everybody's salaries, bottom line, all that stuff. So it's not as simple as just saying 'let's do this' but it does make sense. " 

"It's a difficult issue. Fans want to see guys every night and as a coach you want to make sure they're healthy when it really counts so it's a tough balance." 

Steve Kerr reveals Warriors' issues went beyond Draymond Green-Kevin Durant

Steve Kerr reveals Warriors' issues went beyond Draymond Green-Kevin Durant

Former Warrior Kevin Durant recently admitted that his extremely public confrontation with Draymond Green on the night of Nov. 12, 2018 played a role in his departure from Golden State.

On a new episode of "The Book of Basketball 2.0," Warriors coach Steve Kerr didn't seem to disagree.

"This was two guys who were about ready to fight," Kerr recalled in an interview with Bill Simmons.

In a 121-116 overtime loss to the Clippers, the two Warriors players were caught on camera getting into a verbal altercation on Golden State's bench. Durant and Green had to be separated by teammates, and Green ultimately was suspended by the team for the next game for his role in the squabble.

"I think I addressed it, but we didn't ... there was so much raw emotion in the locker room, we weren't going to resolve anything that night, for sure," Kerr told Simmons. "And that was the beginning ... actually, it wasn't even the beginning. It was probably more a result of what we had started to feel late the season before, where the team was starting to drift a little bit. 

"We were losing some of that connection, and then it kind of continued into camp and the early part of the season. There was just sort of an unspoken tension that was there that Draymond couldn't deal with and he just snapped and it opened up a pretty big wound."

Kerr knows that it wasn't Green's intention to cause such a lasting rift within the team, but rather, he simply went overboard being himself.

"This is my sixth year coaching the Warriors, now, so Draymond and I know each other really well," Kerr said. "He needs some conflict to motivate himself, and I embrace that. And he and I have gotten into it every single year, multiple times, and it's okay because he needs the conflict to get motivated, to get energized. 

"In this particular case with Kevin, it was too much, and it's something that happened on national TV. And now, you've invited the whole world to scrutinize your team, and so now there's so many distractions that it becomes really difficult to deal with."

Apparently, however, the Durant-Green confrontation wasn't the only one of its kind.

"If this had happened at a practice, you can cover it up," Kerr stated. "Actually, we had several things over the past few years that have happened that never made it out, and we're really proud of that."

Interesting.

[RELATED: Kerr reveals favorite game of Dubs' five-year NBA Finals run]

One might recall that shortly after the Warriors won the 2018 NBA Championship, former Warrior David West informed the public that Golden State's journey to the title wasn't a rosy as it might have appeared from the outside.

Kerr refrained from expounding on those unknown details, but it's quite clear that the groundwork that led to Durant's exit was laid long before the decisive blow.

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