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 — 121/2 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.
"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."
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!"
BOSH ON THE BENCH: The Heat remain noncommittal on whether All-Star forward Chris Bosh will return to the starting lineup.
RECORD RATINGS: The opener of the series was the most-viewed NBA Finals Game 1 ever on ABC. The game drew a 9.9 household rating and just under 16.2 million viewers, according to Nielsen.
TIP-INS: Country singer Sara Evans will perform the national anthem before Game 2.
- New Rome mayor maintains opposition to 2024...
- Former NBA MVP Derrick Rose traded from Bulls...
- NHL coming to Las Vegas; New team to start...
- Massive crowd engulfs Cleveland, champion...
- Chile beats Colombia 2-0 to return to Copa...
- Ben Simmons, Brandon Ingram and intrigue...
- 24-team Euro 2016 a wacky success
- Nevada gambling regulators to weigh new...
- Morning links: Athlon ranks Utah FBS... 89
- Never on Sunday: BYU won't compete on... 78
- Utah Jazz to acquire Indiana Pacers PG... 37
- U. stadium gets bigger scoreboard,... 29
- Morning links: ESPN analysts critical... 27
- Utah basketball: Poeltl taken by... 16
- Brad Rock: Jazz move up playoff... 14
- Families grapple with the pressure to... 14