Five things you might not know about star

HOUSTON — The Rockets have noticed that James Harden has talked more than in recent seasons. The topic is not often what you would expect....

HOUSTON — The Rockets have noticed that James Harden has talked more than in recent seasons. The topic is not often what you would expect.

“A lot of it is defense,” Rockets guard Austin Rivers said. “People may find that surprising, but I think he’s trying to make that an emphasis on him for himself. It forces him to be locked in on that end of the floor. He asks during every free throw who everybody has. Little things like that that he would never do in the past.”

Rivers did not just say those words to be a supportive teammate. Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni validated Rivers’ observation.

“Sometimes he gets tired and sometimes he’ll take a play off, but all superstars do that,” D’Antoni said. “He always has been one of the best post defenders in the league. He allows us to be able to switch easily. He can guard post players. Now he’s taking it on himself to be in the right position and always talking.”

CLOSER LOOK:How James Harden has set NBA records, changed game and ignored criticism

WATCH THE GAMES:NBA broadcast partners smart to remain calm amid ratings concerns

Rockets guard James Harden leads the league with 38.9 points per game.

Here’s a look at four other interesting tidbits about Harden:

2. Harden trusts Westbrook in crunch time

When the Rockets acquired Russell Westbrook from Oklahoma City for Chris Paul and a handful of draft picks, those in NBA circles wrestled with two ideas. They had optimism that Harden and Westbrook could co-exist because of their differing playing styles, but they often wondered who would have the ball in crunch time.



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