The heavy burden on James Harden's shoulders, a major factor in the MVP runner-up's miserable finish during last season’s Western Conference semifinals, had been eased as far as the Rockets' front office was concerned. No longer would Harden feel the pressure to create possession after possession after possession now that he had a perennial All-Star backcourt partner. Chris Paul's summer arrival in Houston meant Harden's minutes could be managed much easier and would be significantly less taxing than last season. "That's out the window," coach Mike D'Antoni said before the Rockets' 107-91 rout of the Dallas Mavericks in Saturday night's home opener. Paul will be sidelined for weeks, maybe as much as a month, due to the bruised knee on the left leg that he dragged around for 33 minutes during his Rockets debut this week. That leaves Demetrius Jackson, who is on a two-way contract, as the backup point guard while general manager Daryl Morey searches for budget-friendly upgrades for that role. Houston will clearly err on the side of caution with Paul, whom the Rockets recruited with May and June in mind, not October and November. In the meantime, D'Antoni will attempt to exercise some caution with Harden, albeit not at the expense of the 3-0 Rockets continuing to rack up wins. Plan A is pretty simple: Blow out opponents and allow Harden to root on his buddy Bobby Brown and other Rockets reserves in the fourth quarter. "We need to knock people out," D'Antoni said.
Chris Paul's injury forces Rockets to re-evaluate plan with James Harden
ESPN | Oct 23