OAKLAND, Calif. — James Harden on Sunday night took his first step in earning the unwavering confidence and support Thunder coach Scott Brooks supplies to all his players.
Mired in a three-week shooting slump, Harden calmly swished his first shot against Golden State, a 3-pointer from the right corner. The rookie shooting guard drilled his next two 3-pointers and started the game 4-for-4 from the field. He finished the half shooting 5-for-7 from the field for 13 points.
"I understand that shooting slumps happen with everybody, regardless of what type of shooter you are,” Brooks said about an hour before Harden came out hot. "In this league, you’re never going to be on every game.
"But I do like the fact that he put extra time in (Saturday). Before we jumped on a plane to come here, he went to the gym and shot with coach Rex (Kalamian). And that’s always good. I love when players do that, because the game rewards players who are committed to getting better.”
Hard to say whether Harden is over his shooting woes, or whether he simply benefited from playing the worst defensive team in the league. The Warriors allow 112.4 points and 48.5 percent shooting, both league-highs.
But this much is certain. The Thunder will need Harden to bounce back in time for the start of this weekend’s playoffs.