James Harden, who was one of the best things to happen to the ASU men's basketball program in, say, a generation, is an NBA All-Star in the making.
He would be a star, or the star, on many teams in the league. But on the Oklahoma City Thunder--a small-city franchise that has a bona fide chance to win the league championship this year, Harden is a sixth-man, The Sixth Man in the entire NBA.
Crazy-funky beard and all, Harden poured in a career-high 40 points as Thunder came back from an early 13-point deficit to beat the overmatched Suns 109-97 at U.S. Airways Center.
Kevin Durant, who is so good, so smooth, that it's scary at times, added 29 points, as Oklahoma City pulled away in the final quarter to take the win.
But it was Harden, who is averaging almost 17 points a game in his third pro season, who stole the show in front of a bunch of family and old Tempe friends.
The Suns picked up four technical fouls during the game for arguing with the referees, one of them on Steve Nash, after one of the refs pointed at him in a manner that pissed off the veteran point guard. Waaaahhhh!
As of now, Phoenix sits a half-game out the eighth place and the final spot for the upcoming NBA playoffs. If they do manage to sneak in, well, be careful what you wish for.
There's a good chance that the locals would face off against, yup, the Thunder in the first round in a best-of-seven series that we are fairly sure would end in an early knockout.
Oklahoma City is that good and Phoenix is that average.
The Suns return to the home floor tonight against the almost-as-formidable-as-Oklahoma City San Diego Clippers. Game starts at 7:30 and is being televised nationally on TNT. If you prefer the radio, tune in to KTAR 620 on the AM dial.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Phoenix New Times' biggest stories.