James Harden has become an occupational hazard for referees. Earlier this month, the Jazz were up seven on the Rockets with just over a minute to play, and Utah players were at their wit’s end with the officials. Following a signal that the Jazz had committed yet another foul, Joe Johnson threw his right hand up in disgust. Rudy Gobert shook his head in disbelief. Rodney Hood, who was charged with the foul, looked for a ref with whom he could plead. Joe Ingles had both palms out, confused as to how so little contact could prompt a call.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/jazz4thfoulagainstharden.mp400:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.The whistle marked the fourth time that night that Utah had been charged with fouling Harden in the act of shooting a 3-pointer. And while that might sound unbelievable, it wasn’t even the first time this season that the MVP frontrunner had drawn four shooting fouls from the arc in a game.1He also drew four shooting fouls while attempting 3-pointers during a Dec. 31 victory over the Knicks.Harden has long been great at drawing fouls no matter where he is on the court, but he has taken the art form to new heights on his 3-point attempts this season. After drawing 27 fouls while trying to shoot a triple in 2014-15 and inducing 46 such fouls last season,2According to Basketball-Reference.com’s Play Index. Harden has drawn a whopping 108 shooting fouls from distance this year with 11 games left to play. For context, consider that, outside of the Rockets, no team has garnered more than 73 of those calls.3Amazingly, if you limit Harden to just the 12 games in which he drew at least three 3-point shooting fouls, his 38 fouls drawn in those contests would outpace 21 teams’ totals for the season so far.If you subtract Harden’s numbers from the rest of the league’s, the average NBA player has drawn fouls on 1.6 percent of his 3-pointers this season, according to BigDataBall, which tracks the league’s play-by-play logs. Harden is drawing 3-point shooting fouls at a 16.7 percent clip, or more than 10 times as often. How is he so good at this? PLAYER/TEAMSHOOTING FOULS DRAWN ON 3-POINT ATTEMPTS James Harden: This season’s MVP of drawing 3-point shooting fouls Russell WestbrookOKC482224.6 Lou WilliamsHOU3925012.8 Stephen CurryGSW682223.2 Mike ConleyMEM346236.6 Isaiah ThomasBOS550224.0 “As an opponent, no, I don’t admire it,” Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony told reporters when asked about Harden’s tactics. “As a fan, [I] admire it. Because we as offensive guys, guys who like to score, always try to find tricks that can work in our favor. He found something that’s working for him. So no, as an opponent, I hate it.” (I asked a league spokesman about this issue as it relates to Harden — particularly since the NBA stopped awarding shooting fouls for a similar rip-through move years ago — but he said it’s against league policy to discuss how a particular player is officiated.)Harden isn’t oblivious to the perception that he draws more shooting fouls than he probably should. But the crafty guard makes no apologies, either, saying a defender making contact on a jump shot should merit a foul just like someone bumping a shooter near the basket would. “A foul is a foul no matter how it’s committed,” he told Time in a Q&A this season.Sometimes Harden’s strategy backfires in embarrassing fashion, as he’ll incorrectly anticipate contact and throw up a wild shot in hopes of drawing a foul that never comes.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/hardenflailing.mp400:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/hardenflailing4.mp400:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.But more often than not, it’s been a worthwhile gamble for Harden and the Rockets to go for the foul. That’s become even more true in the past month, since Houston traded for Lou Williams, the player who’s drawn the second-most 3-point shooting fouls in the NBA this season — trailing, of course, only Harden. I asked Houston general manager Daryl Morey about having both of the league’s top two guys in such an odd category, and he said he and others in the Rockets’ front office had noticed Williams’s unusual ability to draw contact from the perimeter, but that it wasn’t the overriding reason they made the swap with the Lakers.“We knew that both Lou and James are extremely good shooters that are hard to guard. So, going over the screen and being physical with them is one of the only ways to guard them, which causes them to get fouled more than others,” Morey said. “That said, we focused more on their overall efficiency than how people have to foul them to stop them.”Teams will do their best to stop Harden from using the trick once the postseason starts. But if last year’s playoffs are any indication, that may not work, either: Harden drew five whistles on just 42 3-point attempts. Three of those fouls came in one half, in a game against the Warriors.Neil Paine assisted with research for this story.Check out our latest NBA predictions. Nicolas BatumCHA347246.9 Harden has drawn more 3-point shooting fouls than any other NBA team PLAYERTEAM3PT ATTEMPTS3PT FOULS DRAWN3PT FOUL RATE Kemba WalkerCHA502244.8 Damian LillardPOR484255.2 Jeff TeagueIND2012210.9 Harden plays on the Rockets, who have drawn 132 total shooting fouls, including his 108. Stats are for the 2016-17 season as of March 21.Source: BigDataBall Hornets68 Trailblazers41 Goran DragicMIA248249.7 James Harden108 Lakers73 Stats as of March 21. Restricted to players who drew at least 20 fouls on 3-point attempts.Source: BigDataBall Raptors52 James HardenHOU64710816.7% The Rockets star has a couple patterns he uses to consistently get these calls. Unlike Jamal Crawford, who has drawn dozens of perimeter shooting fouls as players barrel into his legs during close-outs, Harden would seem to be the one initiating contact on many of his fouls.In particular, Harden has found a way to turn even solid, respectable defenders into victims. He generally waits until his man puts a hand up to defend, then locks arms with him and jumps to begin a shot, making the defender appear guilty. Harden basically forces perimeter defenders to play with their hands down along the 3-point line.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/harden4.mp400:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/harden101.mp400:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Back on New Year’s Eve, Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek vented about this after a loss in Houston, saying it’s impossible to defend Harden given his ability to trick officials. “He grabs with his left arm, has the ball in the right hand and wraps his left arm with your hand,” said Hornacek, whose team fouled Harden from 3-point range four times4He drew all four of them in an 18-minute span during the second half. that night while Harden racked up a 53 points, 16 rebounds and 17 assists. “To me, that’s an offensive foul. But he does it fast, quick — it’s hard to see.”Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/usethisharden16.mp400:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.The other thing Harden does well: Stop on a dime and pop jumpers just as he’s navigating around screens. That trick makes life hell for the defenders who are sprinting to go over the pick to stay with him. Harden’s world-class ability to stop abruptly means that defenders frequently can’t hit the brakes as quickly as he can, which leads to players running into him from behind, prompting 3-shot fouls. This has been especially true this season, as defenders have tried to stay on Harden’s hip more than usual5Defenses have been guarding Harden more and more closely over the past four years. Opponents have been within four feet of him for 65 percent of his shots this season, up from 51, 61 and 62 percent, respectively, during the 2013, 2014 and 2015 seasons, according to NBA.com. to prevent him from spraying the ball wherever he wants in Houston’s spacious offense. Kyle LowryTOR444306.8 Pacers51 Eric BledsoePHX309237.4
MINNEAPOLIS — Dekoda Watson went on the 49ers injured-reserve list Saturday, a day before he figured to bolster their special teams and help the pass rush in the season opener against the Vikings.Watson, 30, injured a hamstring in practice Friday.An eighth-year veteran, he’s known best for special teams, and he had six tackles on those units last season.A potential replacement on the roster is Pita Taumoepenu, who went on the practice squad Sunday after getting waived. …
A “portion” of the stolen cash has been recovered, they say. The police department is looking for another suspect. On Feb. 5, the police department says it arrested 34-year-old Crystal M. Collier of Binghamton for burglary in the 3rd degree, a class D felony. Collier has been released in compliance with the bail reform law, the Johnson City Police Department says. Police say Collier is accused of aiding two others in the burglary and taking cash. JOHNSON CITY (WBNG) — The Johnson City Police Department says it is investigating a burglary at a business that occurred Jan. 19.
It is turning out to be an extremely profitable summer for the Indian sporting stars in Great Britain. Just a few days after Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s Young Turks emerged as the lords at Lord’s, the motley mix at the Commonwealth Games has launched India’s medal campaign in right earnest at Glasgow.Abhinav Bindra won the mens 10m air rifle gold on Friday.First things first, this cricket team was not given a ghost of a chance at the start of the series to win a Test in England. Both history and geography were not on India’s side said the cricket pundits.At least, most of us were made to believe that before the commoners grabbed the chances which came their way at Lord’s. Be it centurion Ajinkya Rahane, who batted with elegance at the world’s most famous cricket venue, or tried and tested fast bowler Ishant Sharma, their exploits were scintillating.For long, Ishant has promised more and delivered less. His devastating spell which won India the Test will be remembered for long as the lanky Delhi man showed he could bounce out the opposition even on a worn out browntinged track on the fifth day.Dhoni and his team have their tails up and as the battle resumes in Southampton on Sunday against beleaguered Alastair Cook’s side, another bunch of Indians are on fire in Glasgow.Just as there was pessimism before the cricket series, not many were giving the multidiscipline stars from India the thumbs up to win medals in Glasgow. But one man who has been an integral part of India’s sporting glory for now over 16 years raised the bar once again with his air rifle as he gunned down gold.advertisementAt two months short of his 32nd birthday, Abhinav Bindra won his maiden Commonwealth Games individual gold medal very forcefully. It seems just like yesterday Bindra won India its maiden individual gold medal at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.Two years later, when the Commonwealth Games were held in New Delhi, Bindra was a superstar who wanted a few extra ‘favours’. He was against the National Rifle Association of India’s policy of constant trials to check for consistency and thought an Olympic gold medalist needed a separate weightage. Matters came to a boiling point before the federation, the Sports Authority of India and the Games Organising Committee boss Suresh Kalmadi had to call Bindra for a cool-down meeting!Looking at Bindra today, it’s tough to believe this seasoned pro actually fussed over something so small four years ago. Then again, as someone so mature with a no-nonsense approach in life, Bindra’s tweets a day before his pet event were uncharacteristic as he asked people for their best wishes and prayers.Frankly speaking, someone like Abhinav does not rely on luck and prayers. He lets his beautiful air rifle do the talking. Taking aim at the target situated 10 metres away, freezing his body before pulling the trigger gently, Bindra has been perfecting the art for over 16 years now.In one of his first interviews to me in Sydney, 2000, Bindra had mentioned how he took to shooting. He had gone with his family to the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 and fell in love with shooting. Four year later, Bindra was amongst the best in Sydney before he came out tops in Beijing.Unlike Jaspal Rana, who started as a prodigy, competed in a clutch of different pistol events and then faded away after the Doha Asian Games, Abhinav Bindra has slogged day in and day out. He has battled back pain, complained of boredom and how doing the same thing day in and day out is not very exciting.Yet, for the champion to continue like this after achieving the biggest goal on the world stage is an example of how much he motivates himself and how his support team works with him.Age is on Bindra’s side, which is why his Twitter announcement that this will be his last Commonwealth Games is a bit surprising. In shooting, one can continue beyond the age of 45. Ask Mansher Singh and Baba Bedi, they are still shooting and part of the Indian squad in Glasgow!In Bindra’s case, he alone will decide when he wants to quit. Motivation for a shooter comes from within and how hard he or she wants to push himself or herself is decided very easily.Bindra will want to continue hard till the 2016 Rio Olympics. Unlike a Leander Paes, who wants to keep pushing simply for the sake of competing in the maximum number of Olympics, each time Bindra shoots, he is a serious medal contender.advertisementThe global shooting community fears him for his hard work and skills and in India, he is a huge role model. Knowing the champion, when he comes home for a short break, he will have a short celebration and then start training for the World Championships and the Incheon Asian Games this September.At a macro level, it is heartening to see new Indian champions crowning themselves in glory in Glasgow, be it in shooting or weightlifting. And I do hope the Narendra Modi government will show a large heart in releasing more funds for athletes’ training. We need to celebrate just as the athletes do.