The Timberwolves beat the Rockets at home on Wednesday night, 121-111, and even though James Harden led all scorers as usual with 42 points on a nauseating 34 field goal attempts, he was far from unstoppable, as proven by T-Wolves rookie Josh Okogie on a pair of dramatic occasions within a couple minutes of each other.
Minnesota as a whole did a good job with Harden, specifically by limiting him to just four free-throw attempts (he averages 11.5 per game), and it was the 20th pick in last year’s draft, out of Georgia Tech, who made the two most viscerally satisfying plays within just a few minutes of each other during an entirely fantastic third quarter. The first was a perfect strip on a Harden crossover that Okogie made effortlessly, reversing the possession and drawing a foul on the other end.
But that was only a prelude to the maximum-security prison Okogie would drop Harden into a few possessions later. With the ball in isolation at the top of the perimeter, Harden went left on Okogie and got cut off. As a Plan B, he tried to retreat and pull off a step-back three with time expiring on the shot clock. But Okogie rose at full extension to meet him, forcing a violation by suffocating the ball and swallowing Harden whole.
So that’s how you take down James Harden, if, uh, anyone else wants to try making that play.