James Harden made a concerted effort to “get downhill” Saturday evening, however that’s precisely the place the top end result headed in opposition to the Bulls on account of his newest subpar taking pictures evening.

Harden matched his season-high with 14 assists in the Nets’ 111-107 loss at Barclays Middle, however the nine-time All-Star related on simply 5 of 21 shot makes an attempt from the ground for a season-worst 23.8 % field-goal share.

On an evening the Nets outworked the Bulls on the boards with a 54-47 rebounding edge, dominated in second-chance factors (23-4) and dedicated solely 5 turnovers as a group, Harden absorbed a “blame this one on me” method in his postgame press convention.

“We simply had a number of alternatives on the rim that we simply didn’t convert that will have made the sport loads simpler for us,” Harden mentioned after Saturday’s recreation. “We undoubtedly constructed one thing this recreation.

James Harden reacts throughout a recreation in opposition to the Bulls at Barclays Middle.
Corey Sipkin/New York Submit

“Clearly it’s robust. We did greater than sufficient to win. Generally it doesn’t work out in your favor, however I believe we take the positives from this recreation and proceed to construct on these. Clearly a loss is a loss however from this recreation we are able to take a number of positives and issues that we did nicely and try to construct from right here.”

With Kyrie Irving away from the team all season on account of his refusal to get vaccinated for COVID-19, Harden continues to imagine nearly all of the Nets’ ball-handling duties. His 9.5 assists per recreation via Sunday ranked him second within the league behind Suns level guard Chris Paul (10.1).

Nonetheless, the 32-year-old Harden’s 40.3 taking pictures share simply marks the bottom of his 13-year NBA profession since he posted that very same quantity as a rookie with Oklahoma Metropolis in 2009-10. He was 4-for-12 from the ground in Saturday’s first half earlier than lacking eight of 9 shot makes an attempt after intermission.

“Truthfully, I used to be simply making an attempt to get downhill, making an attempt to create some power, create some tempo, particularly on the finish of the sport,” Harden mentioned. “All through the course of the sport there have been alternatives for me to go end, I simply didn’t convert on the excessive stage that I wanted to.

“However I really feel like me placing strain on that rim all through the course of the sport was good tonight. My paint finishes weren’t at a excessive stage, and I really feel like that was the rationale for the loss.”

The Nets (16-7) now are going through a four-game street journey starting Tuesday in Dallas, adopted by a return for Harden to Houston the next evening to face his former group, the Rockets. The Nets’ 8-2 document on the street is second-best within the league, behind solely the Suns’ 9-2 mark.

“Each recreation for us is an efficient problem,” mentioned Harden, who leads the Nets with 14 double-doubles via 23 video games. “We’re nonetheless studying one another, we’re nonetheless rising as a group. From [Friday] evening’s [home win against Minnesota] to [Saturday] in opposition to a extremely good Chicago group on a back-to-back is a studying expertise for us.

“To go on the street to Dallas and a back-to-back with Houston is a extremely good problem for us. Each recreation goes to be a distinct problem. It’s going to be good for us. All these video games are constructing our character and constructing our togetherness as a collective group.”

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