Houston Rockets guard James Harden admits he wants to push himself a little bit more in scrimmage games so he is well prepared when the NBA regular season restarts this week in Orlando. Harden, the 2018 NBA MVP, led the Rockets past the Memphis Grizzlies as he scored 31 points, had nine assists, eight rebounds in a 119-104 win.
"I want to build [my stamina] and get that going right now, so when next week starts I'm already prepared," Harden said postgame, as quoted on Sports Illustrated. "I kind of wanted to push myself a little more and get a win."
Throughout the second half of the game, Harden battled Raptors big men Jonas Valanciunas and Jaren Jackson Jr. "I think [Harden] is very underrated as a defensive player," Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni said postgame.
"He's always been one of the best post defenders in the league. ...You can't ask for a whole lot more." Jeff Green scored 18 points and deserved a praise from Harden. "I knew [Green was more than capable of helping us," Harden said.
"That was one of the reasons we reached out. He's able to handle the basketball, he's able to knock down shots, he's pretty solid on defense, so he fits into what we're doing. He's been playing well."
Meanwhile, Damian Lillard sits out game due to inflamed foot
Portland Trail Blazers guard Lillard missed a scrimmage game on Sunday night due to an inflammation in his foot but coach Terry Stotts said the X-ray came back as negative so he expects the five-time NBA All Star to soon be able to play.
The Trail Blazers lost their second scrimmage game in Orlando as the the defending champions Toronto Raptors handed a 110-104 loss to the team that was without its starting point guard. CJ McCollum led the Trail Blazers with 21 and five points, Jusuf Nurkic scored 14 points and also had 13 rebounds and five assists, while Carmelo Anthony added 14 points.
"He (Lillard) did have an X-ray," Blazers coach Terry Stotts said before the game, per ESPN. "The X-ray was negative. He does have some inflammation. I don't expect it to be a long-term thing. "Hopefully he will be able to play our last scrimmage game. But I think it's a little bit on the bottom of his foot. I'm not quite sure about that, but I think it is."