Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant says Rockets rival James Harden makes clever use of NBA rules but does not cheat the game.
Durant, speaking to reporters on Tuesday before the Warriors took on the Rockets in game two of their Western Conference second-round playoff series, said Houston’s prolific scorer Harden has developed an effective way to pressure opposing defenses.
“He’s always been clever at getting to the paint and using his strength to bump guys off,” Durant said of the 2018 NBA Most Valuable Player Harden. “I think it’s, more so than anything, putting pressure on the defense.
“I think that’s what he’s always been doing. I wouldn’t say that he has an advantage. I think everybody, once they get into the lane, they use little tricks to try to get their shots off.
“He may bump guys off going to the rim, but everybody does that.”
The Rockets were angered by the officiating in their 104-100 game-one loss to the Warriors, Harden himself suggesting refs had not given Houston a “fair chance” in the defeat as he cited several non-calls on his three-point attempts.
But their complaints put Harden’s style of play in the spotlight with some suggesting that he manipulated his body in a bid to provoke foul calls on defenders.
“I just think that he has a style of play, and it might not be what everybody might like to see, but it’s been effective and I don’t think he’s been cheating the game at all,” Durant said.
“I think he plays inside the game, plays within the rules of the game. Referees aren’t going to be perfect all game, just like players aren’t.”