Kevin Durant: James Harden ‘not cheating the game’ with style of play
Kevin Durant went to bat for former teammate James Harden amid ongoing criticism that the Houston Rockets star chases fouls, and the Golden State Warriors superstar stressed there’s no “cheating the game” involved.
During his media scrum ahead of Tuesday night’s Game 2 showdown between the Warriors and Rockets at Oracle Arena, Durant insisted Harden plays “within the rules of the game,” per ESPN’s Nick Friedell.
While expanding upon that point, Durant mentioned — in a somewhat odd manner, no less — how he wouldn’t say Harden has “found a way … to cheat the rules.”
Kevin Durant on James Harden: "Everybody, once they get into the lane, they use little tricks to get their shots off..He may bump guys off going to the rim,but everybody does that. I wouldn't say he's found a way..to cheat the rules. He has his style of play..It's been effective" pic.twitter.com/moK7UONYxy— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) April 30, 2019
On the mind of every player participating in the Western Conference semifinal series — not to mention the NBA media and the league’s fans — is the contentious debate over officiating in the series.
With the NBA making an arguably controversial choice concerning one official who will take part in Game 2, Durant was asked about the hand-wringing and consternation over officiating. Perhaps wisely, Durant avoided jumping into the officiating fray.
Kevin Durant on how the officiating has dominated the storyline so far: "Both teams are gonna try to play their best tonight. I think the officials are going to ref the best game they can ref..I think that's going to dominate the series, just how great both these teams are" pic.twitter.com/TyNtQ2uCCu— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) April 30, 2019
There are of course no shortage of compelling storylines in the Warriors-Rockets series, though it’s unfortunate officiating is proving to be the prevailing one thus far. The hope ought to be that Game 2 is officiated cleanly without any semblance of controversy — not to mention less complaints from players and coaches — and the focus can be put more squarely on, as Durant astutely put it, “just how great both these teams are.”