According to Randy Harvey, James Harden's poor defensive effort has been a primary reason for Houston's defensive decline this season (GameFace-Photos/Creative Commons).

According to Randy Harvey, James Harden’s poor defensive effort has been a primary reason for Houston’s defensive decline this season (GameFace-Photos/Creative Commons).

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As the Houston Rockets battle for a postseason berth, it’s the perfect time to bring on Houston Chronicle sports editor Randy Harvey. Of course, the Rockets have wildly underperformed, just a season after their thrilling Western Conference finals appearance. Much uncertainty surrounds the team, including Dwight Howard’s future in the Space City and a likely vacancy at head coach. Choice highlights can be found below:

3:27-4:19 on James Harden’s role in the team’s defensive regression:

“You’ve got to start with Harden. One thing that a lot of people forget is that before last season, he was coming in off a World Championship team, so he worked all summer and came in in shape and played really well defensively, played very well at both ends of the court. This year, there was no national team endeavors in the offseason, and he came in really out of shape, and he’s never really caught up. So you start with that defensively.”

8:15-9:18 on the importance (or lack thereof) of Houston making the playoffs: 

“I think it would be better for them not to make the playoffs, get the lottery pick, than it would be for them to play San Antonio or Golden State in the first round, and you’re basically four games and done. And what’s the point of that? I really don’t see any real advantage for the franchise. I will say this though: Les Alexander has always, even when they weren’t very good going back two and three years ago, never was a tank guy.They were never gonna tank for a draft pick or for a lottery pick…He’s gonna be demanding that they make the playoffs.”

10:11-10:44 on the Ty Lawson acquisition and his miserable fit:

“Nobody here who knows basketball thought that was a good (move). That was a head-scratcher to everybody. Daryl Morey is usually better than that, and I don’t know what he was thinking, because both of those guys have similar games. They both have to have the ball. One or the other was going to be less effective because they were playing next to each other. That made no sense, and it was no surprise when it didn’t work out.”

15:09-15:45 on the relationship between Harden and Dwight Howard:

“The strained relationship with Harden? You hear that, but I really haven’t heard it from either player, and I haven’t heard it from anybody in the locker room. So if there’s something going on there chemistry-wise, and it certainly seems from the outside that there is, it hasn’t really come to light…Here, it’s just been kind of speculated based on more their body language than anything else.”

20:36-21:17 on the team’s lack of sense of urgency under coach J.B. Bickerstaff

“I don’t think he’ll (Bickerstaff) come back even if they make the playoffs. I think they’ve been very unimpressive, and he really hasn’t been able to get the utmost effort out of them. And they have these real lapses at times. The other night, they were up by 13 on a really bad Phoenix team, and then they lose by nine. And that sort of thing has been happening all season, where they just don’t play with that sense of urgency. I think they know he’s a lame-duck coach, and so I don’t think they play all that hard for him.”

26:49-27:15 on Kevin McHale vs. Bickerstaff on handling Josh Smith and others

“McHale just knew how to handle him (Smith). McHale had a real knack for handling players, and I’m not sure J.B. has sort of earned that gravitas, where all the players look up to him. And they could look at Kevin and see his championship rings, and they knew he’d been through what they’d been through. I thought he was a good coach for them.”

Music: “Who Likes to Party” by Kevin MacLeod