James Harden Raising Doubts On Clutch Shooting Skills

By John Raffel
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

James Harden obviously can almost score at will sometimes for the Houston Rockets. But there are other times when he can’t score. It’s those times that should concern the Rockets.

On Wednesday, Houston fell to the Dallas Mavericks. Harden led the Rockets (33-29) with 28 points but missed two shots in the final 30 seconds.

That calls into question how much of a clutch shooter Harden actually is. He’s shown that at times he’s a very clutch shooter. At other times, he’s not as was the case Wednesday night in a 112-108 NBA loss. With his team down by four points, Harden shot a 3-point try that went for an airball in a bid to take the lead and then missed a layup later that would have tied it.

Perhaps that’s being a little too harsh considering that Harden did hit some other key shots.

But when he was needed, Harden did not come through at the end. If he can help the Rockets make the playoffs, and that’s not a guarantee, Harden will be relied upon to hit the key shots in close playoff games.

He showed Wednesday that he might not be able to deliver in that regard.

Some players are better clutch shooters than others. The jury is out on Harden right now, but there’s no question he’s going to be able to lead the Rockets into a position where they can challenge for a huge win. Then it’s up to Harden or one of his teammates to deliver. When a player like Harden is averaging 26 points, and shooting a fine 85.8 percent from the free-throw line, he’s the guy who should have the ball in his hands at the end for the Rockets. He just needs to deliver on a more consistent basis.

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