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NBA coast to coast: Rockets cash in with James Harden

James Harden, acquired from Oklahoma City in a trade and signed to an $80-million extension, scores 82 points to fuel Houston's 2-0 start and spark 'Beardsanity.'

November 05, 2012|By Ben Bolch, Los Angeles Times
  • James Harden is averaging 41 points, 6.5 rebounds and seven assists per game to start the season.
James Harden is averaging 41 points, 6.5 rebounds and seven assists per… (John Bazemore / Associated…)

Hard to pay, harder to guard

Ah, the power of financial resources.

The Houston Rockets went from a basketball nobody to a possible player in the Western Conference by sending a Brink's truck filled with cash to the home of James Harden.

Harden's five-year, $80-million contract extension with the Rockets was one budget-conscious Oklahoma City could not match, which Thunder General Manager Sam Presti made clear as far back as July when he spoke about the "inherent challenges" his franchise faced.

Harden is already making dollars and sense in Houston as part of a new dynamic backcourt. The Rockets have paired breakthrough sensation Jeremy Lin with the bearded dynamo who is showing that maybe it wasn't such a good idea for the Thunder to have brought him off the bench.

In his Rockets debut, Harden had 37 points, 12 assists, six rebounds and four steals, becoming the first player in NBA history to score that many points while also reaching double digits in assists in his first game with a new team.

He surpassed even that performance two nights later with a career-high 45 points.

Harden's hot start has sprouted a new nickname in Houston: "Beardsanity."

"I'm on board with that," Lin told reporters. "Let's do it. Let's start spreading it."

Spreading World Peace

Leave it to Metta World Peace to be two places at once on a game night.

The Lakers small forward played against the Clippers on Friday, the same night he appeared on the sitcom "Are We There Yet?" with Terry Crews.

World Peace was probably a bigger hit on TBS and on Channel 9 than he was at Staples Center, where he scored eight points on three-for-10 shooting during the Lakers' 105-95 defeat.

Appearing as himself on a talk show, World Peace was asked to what he attributed winning the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award during the 2010-11 season.

"For one, I stopped drinking alcohol during games," World Peace deadpanned.

He also addressed whether the Lakers were done, though the question was presumably asked long before their first 0-3 start since the 1978-79 season.

"I don't think we're done," World Peace said. "I think we're just beginning. We're going to have a great off-season and we're going to be just fine."

If this keeps up, it will be an early off-season.

A pleasant diversion

Homes were flooded and millions of people remained without power in the Northeast on Friday in the aftermath of super storm Sandy.

The New York Knicks provided momentary solace with their words and their play during a 104-84 victory over the defending champion Miami Heat.

Carmelo Anthony thanked the sellout crowd at Madison Square Garden for coming to the game in a pregame speech and then dropped 30 points and 10 rebounds on the Heat.

"They rarely hear from us about how we feel in situations like this," Anthony told reporters afterward. "It was only right, me being one of the leaders on this team, to step up and give the fans some words."

—Ben Bolch

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