James Harden's frustration emerged in a brief but testy media session after the Brooklyn Nets lost to LeBron James and the visiting Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday.
The Nets may be feeling upset about a lack of continuity and their current struggles, but they have little time to dwell on those issues. Brooklyn hosts red-hot Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday before embarking on a challenging five-game road trip.
The Nets are 6-9 in their past 15 games and 2-7 in their past nine home games, giving them the worst home record (12-12) of any team holding a top four seed in either conference. They are facing Jokic in a game that was originally slated for Dec. 19 but was postponed when the Nets had Harden, Kevin Durant and others in the COVID-19 protocol, leaving them without enough available players.
On Tuesday, the Nets shot 42 percent and committed 19 turnovers in a 106-96 loss to the Lakers, a game in which Brooklyn trailed for the entire final three quarters. The loss came on the heels of Brooklyn's worst defensive performance, a 136-125 loss at Minnesota on Sunday, and dropped the Nets to 2-3 since losing Durant to a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee on Jan. 15.
Harden posted a triple-double of 33 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists against the Lakers, hours after Bleacher Report stated he was unhappy with things such as coach Steve Nash's rotations and the fact that Kyrie Irving is unvaccinated and a part-time player due to New York City's vaccine mandate.
"Listen, I don't know about any reports," Harden said. "Of course I'm frustrated because we're not healthy, there's a lot of inconsistency for whatever reason. Injuries, COVID, whatever you want to call it, so yeah, it is frustrating. I think everyone in this organization is frustrated because we are better than our record is and we should be on the way up. So that's all it is."
Denver is 10-5 over its past 15 contests after sweeping a home-and-home set with the Detroit Pistons. The Nuggets followed up their 117-111 win on Sunday by opening a six-game trip with a 110-105 win at Detroit on Tuesday.
In the latest contest, Jokic totaled 28 points, 21 rebounds and nine assists while also picking up his 3,000th career assist. Jokic has four triple-doubles over his past six games, a stretch over in which Denver is averaging 118.3 points per contest.
"It's incredible to play with Jokic -- he's one of the best players I've ever been on the floor with," said Denver's Jeff Green, who scored 20 points on Tuesday. "When you are out there with him, you know that if you do your job, you're going to get open shots. The defense has to focus on him."
Besides expecting another big showing from Jokic, the Nuggets are hoping to be better at protecting the ball. They survived Tuesday's game despite committing 25 turnovers that led to 38 points.
"It's hard to beat your opponent while you're beating yourself," Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. "We got lucky tonight, we got away with it. And our defense was able to do that."
The Nets are 5-1 in their past six meetings with the Nuggets, though the teams have yet to square off this season.
--Field Level Media