The Norman Transcript

Sports

April 19, 2013

Harden has changed Rockets’ expectations

HOUSTON — Jeremy Lin looked around on the first day of Houston Rockets’ training camp with more hope than expectation. James Harden arrived three weeks later and everything changed.

The Rockets are back in the playoffs for the first time since the 2008-09 season. Houston will face Oklahoma City, Harden’s former team, in the first round beginning Sunday.

“We definitely didn’t think we’d be here coming into training camp,” said Lin, who’ll make his playoff debut. “I just didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t want to come in with high expectations, bold promises or guarantees. Our goal was kind of just hopefully, make the playoffs.

“Obviously, our roster is different, too,” Lin said. “We didn’t have James before. Going into training camp, things were a lot different.”

Harden seemed as stunned as anyone when he was traded to Houston in late October. The reigning Sixth Man of the Year, Harden embraced and thrived his new starring role, leading the Rockets in scoring 59 times and initiating a fad of fake black beards among Houston’s fans. He was the league’s fifth-leading scorer, notched his first career triple-double and set a team record with 674 free throws.

The high point of his season came against his old team, when he scored a career-high 46 points against the Thunder at the Toyota Center on Feb. 20, the night before the trade deadline. That night, the Rockets traded power forward Patrick Patterson and Marcus Morris in separate deals and received rookie Thomas Robinson and Francisco Garcia.

The trade didn’t upset team chemistry; Garcia has become a key contributor and Houston won 14 of 24 games after the All-Star break.

The Rockets were already a tight group, partly because all of them are so close in age. Houston has the youngest roster in the league (the average age is 24.9) and only Garcia and 3-point specialist Carlos Delfino are over 30. When they clinched their postseason berth — secured by an Oklahoma City victory over Utah — the team gathered for a late-night celebratory dinner after its own victory over Phoenix.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Sports
  • _Y_R3186 Sooners succumb to Longhorns in run-rule shutout

    Oklahoma had its chances. The Sooners put eight runners on base Friday night against Texas, several times with no outs. And stranded every one of them....

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • OU draws even in rout of West Virginia

    As Oklahoma’s players jogged back to the dugout following the top of the first inning against West Virginia, no one appeared overly excited. It was the classic case of masking the emotions....

    April 19, 2014

  • North’s Barrett on track for great stuff

    It was after the guy working the PA at John Jacobs Field Friday afternoon understood The Norman Transcript was in the house when he began singing the praises of Norman North’s Ben Barrett....

    April 19, 2014

  • Sooners advance to Super Six

    BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Oklahoma, Georgia and LSU advanced to the Super Six of the NCAA women’s gymnastics championships....

    April 19, 2014

  • Woodard powers through

    For most of Friday afternoon, Norman North’s Haley Woodard, the day after notching a goal and an assist against Edmond Santa Fe, was lying down and feeling  sick under the North track and field team’s canopy at John Jacobs Field....

    April 19, 2014

  • Can the Heat flip the switch?

    MIAMI — LeBron James was walking down the hallway that the Miami Heat call “Championship Alley” a few minutes after last season’s NBA Finals, when he decided the time was right to send a message. It wasn’t for his fans....

    April 19, 2014

  • No April, May or June Madness in NBA

    AP National Writer ATLANTA — If the playoff-bound Atlanta Hawks were in any other sport, they might have a glimmer of hope for winning a championship. The NBA? No way....

    April 19, 2014

  • Warriors and Clippers take mutual dislike into playoff series

    LOS ANGELES — As much as the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors don’t like each other, they’re a lot alike in some ways....

    April 19, 2014

  • Thunder set to take on unlikely rival in Memphis

    It’s become an unlikely rivalry. There is no reason for Oklahoma City and Memphis to have an ongoing feud, except that they do and the numbers seem to bear it out....

    April 19, 2014

  • OU V Texas Casey sparks Sooners at the plate against Longhorns

    Oklahoma put runners in scoring position all night, but midway through Thursday’s series opener against Texas, the Sooners couldn’t do much with them. Heading into the bottom of the fifth, they had stranded a handful of runners, including ...

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

Facebook