For the most part, NBA preseason games — like preseason games in any pro sport — are worthless. Heck, Steve Kerr practically begged refs to eject him the other night so he wouldn't have to sit through watching his Warriors play one of their final tuneups for the regular season. But Tuesday's game involving the Houston Rockets and the Shanghai Sharks was different.
The contest itself, as expected, wasn't close. But there were a record* number of 3-pointers made, Jimmer Fredette did Jimmer Fredette things, and James Harden created a controversial move that had everyone talking.
Let's start with the barrage of 3-pointers. That a Mike D'Antoni squad likes to fire from deep is nothing new. The Rockets went down to the Golden State Warriors in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals in May by famously missing 27(!) 3s in a row. That did not happen on Wednesday when Houston hit 28 shots from long range in the 128-86 win. Even on a whopping 66 attempts, that still came out to a very good percentage of 42.4. The 28 3-pointers made would be an NBA record for one game, but of course, it's not because this happened in preseason. Against a team from China. Still, it was quite a shooting exhibition. Speaking of. . .
Remember Jimmer Fredette? The All-American from BYU who was supposed to be the next Steph Curry? Well, he's still doing his thing, but he's doing it in China instead of the NBA. What do we mean by doing his thing? VOLUME shooting. Fredette scored a game-high 41 points against the Rockets (he's averaged 37.6 and 36.9 points per game in two seasons playing in China), but because he took 40 shots to do so, D'Antoni didn't offer him a contract on the spot.
Then there was the reigning NBA MVP James Harden who scored 37 points on an efficient 18 shots, including knocking down nine of his team's 28 3-pointers. But it was one in particular that had everyone talking. Late in the third quarter with his team already up 40 points, Harden dribbled down the clock, before going behind-his-back and swishing one from deep as he drifted right. At first glance, it was spectacular — "Razzle, dazzle!" blurted an announcer — but was it a legal move? You be the judge:
Of course, before you answer that question, you must first make the distinction that this is the NBA we're talking about. Dr. James Naismith would be mortified if he saw what players are allowed to do these days, and Harden has long been a master of getting to the hoop and getting off shots by utilizing an extra step or two.
The move caused such a buzz that the NBA weighed in on Wednesday morning and the verdict. . .
So there you have it. Guess we can all look forward to Harden showing off his new move for real starting next week.