James Harden, Chris Paul Had 'Verbal Exchange' After Game 6 Loss to Warriors

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistMay 23, 2019

Houston Rockets guard James Harden, left, talks with teammate Chris Paul as they walk off the court during a timeout in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Sacramento Kings, Tuesday, April 2, 2019, in Sacramento, Calif. The Rockets won 130-105. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

Tensions reportedly boiled over in the Houston Rockets locker room following another postseason loss to the Golden State Warriors.

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, James Harden and Chris Paul had multiple "tense moments with one another throughout Game 6, culminating in a verbal back-and-forth postgame that went into the locker room."

Charania noted the "verbal exchange" centered around ball distribution during Houston's final game of the playoffs, but he pointed out "there was something of a clash of styles brewing throughout the Rockets season, with members of the team—most notably Paul—having spirited discussions with Mike D'Antoni about the offense and pushing for more movement."

It is understandable if there was built up frustration on Houston's side seeing how losing to the Warriors has become an all too familiar ending.

The Rockets lost the last two games of last year's Western Conference Final after building a 3-2 lead with Paul sidelined with a hamstring injury. Houston also lost to Golden State in the 2015 and 2016 playoffs before Paul arrived.

Still, there is something to be said about the predictability of the team's offense in 2018-19.

The Rockets shifted to an offense that was reliant on Harden every night during stretches of the regular season when Paul and Clint Capela were sidelined with injuries. As a result, Harden led the league with a head-turning 39.5 percent usage rate, per NBA.com.

By comparison, Joel Embiid was second among players who appeared in more than three games at 32.4 percent.

Houston was also a mere 27th in the league in pace in the regular season and 10th in the playoffs as the offense often devolved into players standing around watching Harden and waiting for him to make a play.

In fairness to the Rockets and D'Antoni, it worked for much of the season. The MVP candidate averaged a league-best 36.1 points per game and made sure Houston remained in the thick of the Western Conference race even with so much attrition.

However, it wasn't enough against the mighty Warriors, and the two primary ball-handlers were apparently unhappy with each other and the reality after the loss.