Amico Report: Harden, Rockets look like new

James Harden and the Rockets seem more upbeat under their new coach.

Some quick random news, notes and thoughts from around the NBA:

1. According to ESPN: “James Harden touched the ball a season-high 110 times in the Rockets victory over the Wizards on Monday night. Harden scored 32 points and added 15 assists. In the last two games, Harden has possessed the ball 218 times.”

2. As an aside, I’m thoroughly enjoying Harden and the Rockets under new coach Mike D’Antoni. But I think they need a serious No. 2 guy before they can consider themselves a true contender.

3. I keep picturing Russell Westbrook on the Rockets. I hope Westbrook stays in Oklahoma City after the season, and I don’t know that Westbrook and Harden would ever actually work. But it might be fun watching them try under D’Antoni. That said, still, I’d like both guys to stay right where they are.

4. We’re not even 10 games in and already, 76ers fans have seen enough. Or at least enough of the losing. According to the Associated Press: “The 76ers fans, who have been patient during the rebuilding process, loudly booed Nik Stauskas when he missed a pull-up 3 trailing by 16 late in the third. They loudly booed as they fled for the exits with the Sixers down 20 late in the fourth.”

5. With the likes of Joel Embiid, Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, Dario Saric and eventually, Ben Simmons, the Sixers should be good someday. I just wonder if Brett Brown will still be the coach when they are. Brown is a good coach. I hope he’s there when things turn around. But I know the NBA, and I know it’s not often fair.

6. Pelicans rookie guard Buddy Hield is averaging 11.7 points in four November games. Hield is my favorite NBA newcomer. You’ll get updates on him in this spot often. The Pelicans stink right now, but Anthony Davis is must-see TV. And after watching Hield at Oklahoma, so is he.

7. How about those Hornets? They’ve won five of six and are really clicking under fourth-year coach Steve Clifford. In Monday’s win over the Pacers, the Hornets scored 75 points in the first half. They move the ball, they defend, they’re the “sleeper” I expected the Pacers to become.

8. Actually, there’s still time for the Pacers under new coach Nate McMillan. It’s just that they’re 0-4 on the road — and losing those road games by an average of 16.5 points. Paul George just doesn’t look the same to me, either. But again, it’s way early.

9. The Bulls are at the Heat on Thursday. You know what that means. It’s the return of Dwyane Wade to Miami. “That will be a special moment,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra told reporters. “It means a lot to all of us, including myself.”

10. The new-look Bulls of Wade and Rajon Rondo are 4-3, but eight of their next nine are on the road. It will be interesting to see how they hold up — especially closer to the end of the season.

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