Thunder's Harden OK with low-scoring finals debut

By Jeff Latzke

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, June 13 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Kevin Durant participates in a news conference after Game 1 of the NBA finals basketball series against the Miami Heat, Tuesday, June 12, 2012, in Oklahoma City. The Thunder won 105-94.

Sue Ogrocki, Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY — There wasn't much to fear about the beard in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

NBA sixth man of the year James Harden scored only five points — 12½ below his playoff average — in his finals debut but was hardly lamenting it Wednesday with his Oklahoma City Thunder up 1-0 in the series against the Miami Heat.

Harden had scored in double digits in all 15 playoff games this season before making it only halfway there to start the finals. He played only 22 minutes, his least of the playoffs, largely because he was pulled after picking up his fourth foul late in the fourth quarter and did not return. Defensive stopper Thabo Sefolosha replaced him and did a good enough job of slowing down LeBron James that he never came out.

"I think I did a pretty good job ... obviously I didn't score the ball well but just defensively and doing other things to help the team win," Harden said Wednesday "Ws are all that matter now. It's not about individual performances."

Perhaps most notably, Harden didn't attempt a single free throw in Game 1. The left-handed slasher shot the 10th-most foul shots in the league during the regular season and said he wants to get back to attacking the rim in Game 2 on Thursday night.

"Just be more aggressive, watch film, learn what they did on the defensive end and just attack more. Be more aggressive not just for myself, but collapsing the defense in and making plays for my teammates is something that I'm very good at," Harden said.

"I've just got to be aggressive and do whatever it takes and drive the lanes, find my shooters and find by bigs for easy dunks."

HE GOES GLASSES: It's the fashion craze that's all the rage in the NBA playoffs: glasses, sometimes with lenses, sometimes without.

The stars of both the Thunder and the Heat have taken to wearing glasses to their postgame news conferences — even if not all of them need the eyewear.

"Trends, they come and go, and people get on board with them or they don't. With the nerd glasses that comes in the NBA, it's just something fun to do right now," Dwyane Wade said. "I'm sure next season it'll be out the window."

Russell Westbrook's attire has been all over the place during the postseason. His latest outfit was a white shirt with drawings of golfers all over it for after Game 1.

And his glasses frames typically don't have lenses because he doesn't need them. But he said he's got a variety of different colors to choose from.

"I've been wearing glasses since I've been in the league," he tried to claim Wednesday "I think everybody else just started wearing them now."

That's obviously not the case. LeBron James said he thinks he started going with glasses two years ago, but he doesn't know who sparked the craze or when.

"There's no stories behind it. You know, it's a look, it's a fashion thing," James said. "But (Westbrook) absolutely didn't start it."

FACE GUARDING: Miami's Shane Battier was jazzed to find out that three-time scoring champion Kevin Durant admitted being bothered by Battier's method of sticking his hand in a shooter's face to keep him from seeing the rim.

"Yes! Someone finally admitted it," Battier said. "For years, Kobe (Bryant) never admitted it. Yes!"

Battier said he started the hands-to-the-face technique a few years ago after teammates got mad at him when he was testing it out in practice. He says coach Erik Spoelstra isn't all that fond of it but his rationale is that "I can't jump to block shots anymore, so that's my secret weapon."

"Anything to mess with this sort of space right here affects you," Battier said, gesturing with his hands moving around his head.

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