James Harden and Chris Paul were involved in a “verbal exchange” after the Warriors eliminated the Rockets from the playoffs, according to a report from The Athletic, which cites unidentified league sources.
The incident began after Houston’s Game 6 loss to Golden State in the Western Conference semifinals and continued in the locker room. The two Rockets stars were arguing about “ball distribution," according to the report.
Harden finished with 35 points on 25 shots in the game while Paul scored 27 points on 11-of-19 shooting.
“Extremely proud (of my teammates),” Harden said after the loss. “That’s been the story all year long. We’ve been fighting. No matter what troubles hit our way, we find a way to fight through, find a way to be on top. (In Game 6), we came up a little short, but it was a pretty good year for us.
“It always hurts when your season ends, knowing that you had opportunities. Very, very frustrating. Just have to let it sink in a little bit and find ways to be better.”
The Rockets have been knocked out of the playoffs by the Warriors in back-to-back seasons. They fell to Golden State in the Western Conference finals in seven games in 2017-18.
“They just outplayed us,” Paul said after Game 6. “They played smarter, they made the big plays and we didn’t. Too many turnovers and they just beat us.
“There are no moral victories. We lost. We have to go back to the drawing board. Analyze, myself, what I can get better at. We’re going home. That’s what it is.”
Harden was a unanimous selection for the All-NBA First Team. He is a also a finalist for the MVP award, which he took home in 2017-18, as well.