Harden isn't 'cheating the game', says Durant
Kevin Durant does not think there is anything wrong with the way Houston Rockets star James Harden plays.
Some have criticised Harden for flopping and trying to draw fouls, including during the Rockets' game-one loss to the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference semi-finals.
Durant, however, does not believe that is the case.
"He's always been clever at getting into the paint and using his strength to get guys off," Durant told reporters on Tuesday, via NBC Sports Bay Area.
"It's, more so than anything, putting pressure on the defense. I think that's what he's always been doing.
"I wouldn't say that he has an advantage. I think everyone, once they get into the lane, they use little tricks to try and get shots off. I don't think he's any different … I wouldn't say that he's found a way to cheat the rules. It's just that he has his style of play and it might not be what everybody likes to see, but it's been effective, and I don't think he's been cheating the game."
The #Rockets are back at it for Game . The squad will try to even things up on Golden State's home court before heading back to H-Town for Game 3.— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) April 30, 2019
Game Preview: https://t.co/aVK8Ts86Yopic.twitter.com/GrdXTEwTk9
Harden was unhappy with the officials and said he wanted a "fair chance" after the Rockets' 104-100 loss to the Warriors in game one.
"I think he plays inside the game, plays within the rules of the game," Durant said. "Referees aren't going to be perfect all game, just like players aren't. So, I think, more so than just the talk of the officiating, it should be about how great all these players are on the court, how they uniquely bring something different to the table."
Harden tallied 35 points but shot just nine of 28 from the field in game one. Meanwhile, Durant tallied 35 points of his own, on a more efficient 11-of-25 shooting, to lead Golden State to a victory.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr praised Durant after the win.
"He's the most skilled basketball player on earth," Kerr told reporters. "He's one of the most skilled basketball players to ever play the game. There's never been anybody like him – 6-11 handles the ball, shoots threes, passes, defends."
The Warriors and Rockets will match up in game two on Tuesday at Oracle Arena.