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James Harden: B-
James Harden had a rough first quarter from the floor, shooting just 1-of-6 and once again casting a shred of doubt on his tenuous superstardom.
While Harden has shown in the early part of the season that he can be the star, he will have to continue to adjust to drawing the other team's main focus defensively. The Rockets have clearly given Harden the green light on shot selection, and he ultimately finished the game with 20 points on 7-of-18 shooting.
Harden did find success when he took three-pointers early in the shot clock, as all of his long-range conversions came in such situations. And the reigning Sixth Man of the Year finished the game with a plus/minus differential of negative-10.
Since Harden played by far the most minutes of any Rockets player (38), he should not be criticized that heavily for posting a negative differential in what was a rough game for the entire team.
Kobe Bryant: A+
Some things never change.
Kobe Bryant showed off his basketball savviness at the end of the first quarter, when he managed to draw a shooting foul from Chandler Parsons from behind the arc. Kobe took full advantage of the opportunity, as he promptly drained all three attempts from the charity stripe.
From the opening tip, Bryant made it clear that he was looking to facilitate the offense by opening up favorable looks for teammates by driving the ball into the paint.
By the middle of the second quarter, Bryant was working on achieving the elusive first-half triple-double.
Kobe dished out his 10th assist to Pau Gasol on what was the Spaniard's 15,000th point of his career—a nice coincidence considering how much the two of them have accomplished together.
Bryant recorded the triple-double with around 5:40 left in the fourth quarter, the 18th of his illustrious career.
Kobe ended the game with a plus-14 differential, a team-best. He also finished the game with 22 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds on 50 percent shooting from the field.
The Black Mamba led the attack against the Rockets, and he did so masterfully.