Berry Tramel

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Oklahoma City Thunder: Thabo vs. James Harden

by Berry Tramel Modified: April 30, 2013 at 11:25 am •  Published: April 30, 2013

Thabo Sefolosha was saying the other day how different it is playing against James Harden rather than playing with him.

How when Harden is your teammate, and he makes one of those Eurostep, funky angle shots, or draws all those bewildering fouls, you think it’s great. And when Harden is your opponent, those things drive you nuts.

Well, the same thing goes the other way. Thabo Sefolosha is a lot more pleasant to play with than against.

The Harden/Thabo matchup is becoming increasingly interesting in this Thunder-Rockets series.

The Rockets won Game 4 105-103 Monday night, but Harden had just 15 points, to go with 10 turnovers. Harden made just four of 12 shots, and Thabo consistently stayed in front of Harden.

“One of the best defenders we have in this league,” Harden said. “Six-seven, 6-8, very long arms. Doesn’t really foul you. Does a great job of moving his feet. And if you do get past Thabo, you’ve got to go against Serge (Ibaka). Their defense is so tough to score against. Five guys have to move the ball and space the floor.”

Harden says he’s “always had respect for him (Sefolosha). When I went against him every single day in practice, that’s what made me better. That’s what made me better. Going against his defense. Those guys made me better. Kind of feels weird to be playing against ‘em.”

I’d say. Harden is averaging 25.3 points a game in this series, but it’s come at a cost. Harden is shooting 36.4 percent from the field and has 20 turnovers. He’s 4-of-25 from 3-point range, and it’s clear that Harden is not comfortable with his shot. Which is why Thabo is doing a good job of not letting Harden drive, preferring to let his former teammate take outside shots.

Harden even joked about his Game 4 performance: “I did have a double-double (referring to the turnovers).”

 

by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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