Defending James Harden will be a team effort for Thunder

Like every other elite scorer, former OKC guard will see ‘bodies and bodies' when he returns to Chesapeake Energy Arena on Wednesday night.
By John Rohde Published: November 27, 2012
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photo - Portland Trail Blazers' Jared Jeffries, left, and Will Barton (5) strip the ball from Houston Rockets' James Harden (13) in the second half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012, in Houston. Portland won in overtime 95-85. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan) ORG XMIT: HTR111
Portland Trail Blazers' Jared Jeffries, left, and Will Barton (5) strip the ball from Houston Rockets' James Harden (13) in the second half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012, in Houston. Portland won in overtime 95-85. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan) ORG XMIT: HTR111

Thabo Sefolosha will be the first Thunder player to defend former teammate James Harden when the Houston Rockets visit Chesapeake Energy Arena at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Russell Westbrook also will get his shot at defending Harden, as will Kevin Durant.

There will be plenty of intrigue when new OKC sixth man Kevin Martin defends the man for whom he was traded.

If Thunder center Kendrick Perkins is feeling particularly “perky,” he might start defending Harden at midcourt when he's dribbling and try to make him change directions a few times.

These OKC players will not defend Harden simultaneously, of course, though they might be tempted should the bearded one go off on another one of his scoring spurts.

When Harden and Houston make their lone visit to The Peake this season, the Thunder's defensive approach will be the same as it is for all great scorers.

All five defenders must get involved. No one single-handedly defends a good player in the NBA, and at 25.2 points per game, Harden certainly qualifies as better than good.

Sefolosha is one of the league's premier perimeter defenders, but he won't go it alone against Harden.

Westbrook is arguably the NBA's most athletic player, but he'll also require some help defending Harden.

When Sefolosha, Westbrook, Durant, et al, were teammates, Thunder coach Scott Brooks often would switch defensive assignments during practice, and that's how they're preparing for Harden.



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