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Harden Steals The Show and Leads The Rockets Over the Nets, 113-99

Houston Rockets guard James Harden Photo Credit: Rhino Press Houston Rockets guard James Harden

Harden Overshadows Mason Plumlee's Career-High 24 Points

Houston Rockets guard James Harden is becoming one of the must-see main attractions of the NBA.

Harden has the third most votes in the All-Star ballot for the 2015 NBA All-Star game among Western Conference guards (690,843), following Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (958,014) and Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (862,568), but All-Star votes do not do Harden justice.

It's his un-guardable crossover dribble, stutter step-back move and ability to finish at the rim which allows him to embarrass and exploit any and every defender in the league.

It's like Santa Claus, you have to see Harden's game to believe it, and once you do, you will believe in the beard too.

The Rockets are (26-11) as they progress towards the much awaited All-Star Weekend, which will be held in New York City this year. Dwight Howard and a cast of formidable and respected role players aside, Harden is the primary reason for the Rockets success.

Harden, a candidate for league MVP honors, is averaging 26.8 points per game, along with 6.6 assists and 5.8 rebounds, his best career overall numbers yet, and tonight, the Nets experienced all of it.

And, I mean all of it.

After dismantling the Knicks last Thursday night, Harden led the Rockets into the Barclays center and enjoyed a similar result, defeating the Nets in a rout, 113-99.

The Rockets improved to (27-11) on the season while the Nets dropped their sixth-straight game, now (16-22).

Harden had his way all night long, toying with each defender the Nets presented him with, scoring a fairly easy and exciting 30 points and 6 assists, featuring 15 points in the 1st quarter alone.

An altercation between Kevin Garnett and Dwight Howard in the first quarter, which ultimately led to KG's ejection couldn't fuel or inspire his teammates this evening.

"It looked like they got into a little bit of a scrum, and I really didn't think too much of it," said Rockets Head Coach Kevin McHale post-game.

To be honest, the writing was already on the wall before the Nets, losers of five-straight (including losses to Philadelphia, Boston and Detroit), tipped-off against the Rockets tonight. This game was a clear-case of just having no answer for one of the best two-guards in the league.

At the half, Harden led all scorers (both Rockets & Nets) with 20 points and 4 assists, yes, one of those nights.

There's only a few players in the league that can generate cheers on the road and create a level of excitement and anticipation every time he touches the ball.

Kobe Bryant when healthy and LeBron James are other examples.

Harden is becoming that kind of player and his performance was well received by the fans of Brooklyn tonight.

The state of the Brooklyn Nets didn't matter.

Injured guard Deron Williams and his health were an after-thought.

We all just wanted to see what Harden would do next.

To make matters even worse, Harden's early damage in this game throughout the first three quarters, paved the way for the rest of the Rockets to pad their stats, while he received a well-deserved rest for the duration of the final 12 minutes.

Jason Terry scored all of his nine points in the 4th quarter, which included 3 three-point shots.

Donatas Motiejunas contributed a double-double in 18-11 and Josh Smith scrapped up 13 points.

For the Nets, their inability to stop Harden overshadowed Mason Plumlee's production, scoring a career high 24 points while posting his ninth double-double of the season with 10 rebounds, which leads the team.

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Mason Plumlee, Brooklyn Nets center; talking with the media

In this defeat, we can point to numerous reasons why the Nets failed to overcome one of the best from the west.

You can argue the fact that the Nets struggled to defend the three-point shot as the Rockets shot 40% from three, (16-40). The Nets were just unable to match the marksmanship from behind the arc, shooting 23.8% (5-21).

"It came down to us shooting 24% from three, 5-for-21, and the other side was 16-for-40," said Nets Head Coach Lionel Hollins in his post-game press conference.

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Lionel Hollins, Brooklyn Nets, Head Coach; addressing the media in a postgame press conference

"That was the difference in the game-if you looked at the score, it was 14 points."

You can even challenge the Nets inability to take care of the orange, committing 16 turnovers which amounted to 19 points for the Rockets.

In the end, Harden took control of this game early and the Nets were unequipped to answer.

"Yeah, especially on the road, you got to make sure you put teams away," said Harden in the visitor's locker-room following the game.

"You give any team the confidence, especially at home, anything can happen. We are feeling really good about ourselves right now."

Harden's game simply defined exactly what drives the Rockets.

Their entire philosophy on offense stems through the bearded one.

Harden's exceptional ball-handling gives him the opportunity to break-down defenses and make plays for himself and a supporting cast filled with three-point threats.

When those threats are comfortable from outside, it makes the Rockets impossible to guard and coral.

"When you have a player like James Harden and he's attacking and doing what he does, there's going to be opportunities for the three-point shooters," Hollins said post-game.

And it worked; I mean do we have to reiterate the fact that the Rockets hit 16 three's tonight?

This game displayed why every team covets the "star" player.

It explained why teams tank.

It exhibited how much one player can affect the outcome of a game individually.

It also highlighted and reminded us all what Brooklyn misses in Williams.

The Nets are a confused bunch at this point in the season, which brings up the most logical question regarding their immediate future, which is: Where are they going?