MILWAUKEE — Chris Paul had a message for MVP voters Tuesday night time: The Houston Rockets’ 108-94 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks should not matter when ballots are solid.
Paul admits that he’s biased in his perception that his Rockets co-star, James Harden, ought to repeat as MVP. However he was adamant that Harden’s relative off night time in a showdown towards Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, the opposite MVP front-runner, should not sway any votes.
The Bucks held Harden to 23 factors on 9-of-26 capturing, solely the fourth time this season he completed with extra discipline objective makes an attempt than factors. He additionally had 10 rebounds, seven assists and two blocks within the loss.
Antetokounmpo additionally had a mediocre recreation by his extraordinarily excessive requirements, recording 19 factors, 14 rebounds and 4 assists.
HardenGiannisLast Wed.+450-700Final Thu.+275-400Immediately+200-250– Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook– Getting into Tuesday night time’s recreation
“James went on a historic run. Know what I imply?” Paul stated, referring to Harden’s streak of 32 consecutive 30-point performances, carrying the Rockets from 14th place to 3rd within the Western Convention standings throughout that stretch regardless of Paul and heart Clint Capela lacking prolonged time as a result of accidents. “Clearly, I am biased concerning the MVP and whoever or whatnot, however these of you that determine it on head-to-head video games with a couple of video games left within the season, good luck with that. Occurred to me in ’08.”
Paul completed second within the MVP voting that season behind Kobe Bryant, who had 29 factors, 10 rebounds and eight assists within the Los Angeles Lakers’ 107-104 win over Paul’s New Orleans Hornets within the ultimate week of the common season.
Paul stated he meant no disrespect to Antetokounmpo, whose all-around excellence for the workforce with the NBA’s greatest document has made the MVP race aggressive regardless of Harden being within the midst of one of many best offensive seasons in NBA historical past.
“I get to see James play much more,” Paul stated. “You have to perceive that me saying that does not imply that Giannis hasn’t had an incredible season and stuff like that. He is been nice for his workforce and all that, however I see what James does each night time too.”
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The Bucks had success defending Harden by aggressively forcing him to drive proper and attempt to end in site visitors, enjoying the identical scheme they did in a win at Houston on Jan. 9, when Harden had 42 factors and 6 assists however was solely 13-of-30 from the ground and dedicated 9 turnovers.
Milwaukee guards Eric Bledsoe and George Hill, the first defenders on the NBA’s main scorer, constantly positioned themselves near Harden’s left hip, even when he did not have the ball in his palms. They basically invited him to drive to his proper, funneling him into the paint, the place the presence of heart Brook Lopez and Antetokounmpo pressured Harden to continuously accept floaters.
Harden was 1-of-9 from Three-point vary and Four-of-5 from the free throw line — getting considerably fewer makes an attempt than his averages of 13.Three and 11.zero, respectively — however he dismissed the affect of the Bucks’ defensive scheme.
“None,” Harden stated. “I nonetheless obtained my photographs up. I nonetheless was aggressive. I nonetheless did what I used to be imagined to do. Clearly, some photographs did not go in like each different recreation, however as a workforce, we had our photographs that we obtained. Tonight, they did not go in. In the event that they go in, it is a completely different ballgame. Credit score to them; they made photographs.”
Harden usually discovered open spot-up shooters because of the Bucks’ aggressive assistance on him, however the Rockets could not make Milwaukee pay. Houston starters PJ Tucker and Eric Gordon mixed to overlook 12 of their 13 Three-point makes an attempt.
“Once you’re not making photographs, they’ll keep on him,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni stated, referring to Harden. “He wanted assist from Eric or PJ to knock down photographs. I am not an enormous believer in them stopping James. It is that we cease James, and that is about it. They did what they’re imagined to do. I do not need to take something away from them.”