Smith: Harden back to his old self as Rockets languish

There is nothing surprising, stunning or shocking about James Harden playing like James Harden again.

Which makes the Rockets’ post-Beard life even harder.

Harden’s old team is stuck at 11-17, officially living life as the third-worst team in the Western Conference and sixth weakest in the NBA. Playing a non-postponed home game inside Toyota Center next week will represent a late February accomplishment for Stephen Silas’ Rockets, who have fought through injury, chemistry and commitment issues since training camp and are already down 50 points in the bad-luck column.

Every time you want to get excited about the remade Rockets, something bad happens to them.

Every time the brain buzzes thinking about the on-court possibilities of John Wall, Christian Wood and Victor Oladipo united within the same offense, reality reminds us that the Rockets’ new trio still hasn’t had time to click together. And that rookie Jae’Sean Tate has been Silas’ most dependable name on the active roster.

Harden wanted to leave in November. Three months later, he’s in a much better basketball place when the superteam 2021 Nets are compared with constantly healing 2021 Rockets. But it’s impossible to feel anything resembling positivity when Harden efficiently guides Brooklyn to another victory and new highlights of a revived Beard stream across Twitter.

J.J. Watt was locally crowned and celebrated when the Texans recently released him.

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