It'd be tough to blame James Harden for wanting to play his best against his former team, but that didn't happen Wednesday night. The Houston Rockets shooting guard scored just 17 points and missed his first nine shots against the Oklahoma City Thunder in a 120-98 loss.
Indeed, Harden might have been trying a little too hard, as head coach Kelvin Sampson said after the game:
"I think James was probably pressing a little bit. I'm not sure that he would admit it. I've watched him play every game thus far this year and he's been playing really, really well lately but I thought tonight he was pushing a little bit."
The Thunder traded the reigning Sixth Man of the Year to the Rockets last month -- right before the season started -- after the two sides failed to reach an agreement on a contract extension. It was Harden's first game against his former team.
Harden has played well as a starter with Houston, averaging 24.5 points and 5.4 assists per game while playing over 38 minutes a game. He sounded relieved when the game was over that he got the first matchup against his former teammates out of the way:
"It feels good to compete against these guys and finally get it over with. Now, I can continue on with the season."