Nets' James Harden Says He's 'Not Trying to Compete' with Kevin Durant

Jenna CiccotelliCorrespondent IIIJanuary 19, 2021

Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden celebrates with forward Kevin Durant (7) during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Milwaukee Bucks, Monday, Jan. 18, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
Adam Hunger/Associated Press

As James Harden settles in to his new role alongside Kevin Durant on the Brooklyn Nets, he says he's "not trying to compete" with the nine-time All-NBA selection and two-time NBA champion.

"He's one of the best players to ever touch a basketball," Harden said Monday after Durant's clutch three-pointer lifted the Nets to a 125-123 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks. "... For me, it's not trying to compete with that. It's allowing Kevin to be the best Kevin he can be."

In his second game with his new team after he was finally traded by the Houston Rockets—ending a monthslong saga that included a holdout at the start of the preseason—Harden dropped 34 points, 12 assists and six rebounds, while Durant posted 30 points with nine rebounds and six assists.

The duo has been unstoppable as Harden temporarily replaces Kyrie Irving next to Durant, but once Irving returns (he has missed the last seven games for personal reasons), they will form a Big Three.

In their first two outings as Nets teammates, Harden and Durant have scored 138 points, the second-most points by two teammates in their first two games with a franchise. Wilt Chamberlain and York Larese posted 151 in their first two games with the 1961-62 Philadelphia Warriors, according to the Elias Sports Bureau (via ESPN Stats and Info).

But while Chamberlain and Larese might have combined for more points, Harden and Durant have been more dominant. Durant has scored 72 of those 138 points, while Harden has been responsible for 66. In December 1961, Chamberlain had 139 points to Larese's 12.

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Harden and Durant are the only teammates to score 30 points each in their first two games together, per Elias (via ESPN). 

It seems as though they've picked up where they left off. The last time Harden and Durant were teammates, they joined forces with Russell Westbrook to pace the Oklahoma City Thunder to three consecutive postseason appearances, ending with a five-game loss to the Miami Heat in the 2012 NBA Finals.