James Harden and Chris Paul Are Staggering. So Are The Rockets.

Houston hasn’t played a single meaningful possession without one of its two star point guards over this 9-0 winning streak that has given the Rockets the NBA’s best record

The Houston Rockets have staggered the playing time for James Harden and Chris Paul. PHOTO: ANDREW D. BERNSTEIN/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES

By Ben Cohen

The Houston Rockets made a bold decision this summer to build around two players who more or less play the same position. It already looks brilliant.

The results of their latest basketball experiment were delayed when Chris Paul was injured and the Rockets only had James Harden. But for the last nine games, they’ve had the incredible luxury of both All-Star point guards, and this is where the rest of the league might want to stop reading. Because the Rockets were 9-0 in those nine games. They had the No. 1 offense and the No. 1 defense in the league.

And it’s not only because of how Paul and Harden are playing together. It’s also because of how—and how much—Paul and Harden are playing apart.

It was always going to be interesting to see two great point guards on the same team at the same time. But there was something else intriguing about the counterintuitive union of Harden and Paul: It meant that one of them could always be on the court. As long as Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni managed their minutes with that in mind, Houston could have a Hall-of-Famer running its explosive offense for every minute of every game. That’s exactly what he’s done.

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