HOUSTON – To James Harden, Ron Adams is more than merely a Warriors assistant coach trying to figure out a way on defense to stop the Rockets star.
“That’s one of my closest friends,” Harden said of Adams on Saturday. “He was one of my mentors when I got in the league. Just to compete against him, I know he has something up his sleeve over there as far as trying to defend me.”
Adams, 67, served as an assistant for Oklahoma City when he saw the Thunder rookie Harden as a future standout. These days, Harden has had scoring performances of 28 and 38 points in Games 1 and 2 of the Western Conference finals against the Warriors.
“It’s a little bit irritating to me,” Adams said. “That’s how I think. I don’t want anyone scoring on us.
“I like James a lot up until that clock starts ticking and the game starts.”
After the previous game at the Toyota Center in January when the Warriors held Harden to 12 points on 4-for-15 shooting, he walked side by side with Adams while chatting on their way out of the arena. The two also spent time catching when the two teams met for a preseason game in Hidalgo, Texas.
Adams said he would like to think that his knowledge of Harden’s game would be a big factor in containing it.
“Defensively, he’s one of the best that we have in this league,” said Harden, who learned more man-to-man defense from Adams after playing zone for Arizona State.
“He’s a really smart guy over there.”
Recalled Adams: “James was a precocious guy, and we connected. I’m a left-hander. He’s a left-hander.”