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Nov 9, 2012 8:50pm
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OKLAHOMA CITY —For James Harden, the notion that he could impact a game just
as much off the bench as he would from the starting lineup didnt really click
until he was forced to test it out. Joe Greene Jersey . When the Oklahoma City
Thunder traded starters Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic to Boston in the middle of
last season, it put Harden in a bigger role—even if he still was the first
player off the bench. In his first season fully understanding the role, Harden
won the NBAs Sixth Man of the Year Award after leading all bench players in
scoring. “A lot more opportunities have come my way,” Harden said Thursday after
accepting the award. “All I did was just took advantage of them.” Harden
averaged 16.8 points on career-best 49 per cent shooting this season, and he
recorded his first career 40-point game last month in a win at Phoenix. The
bearded combo guard also became known in the final week of the regular season
when he sustained a concussion while taking an elbow from the Los Angeles Lakers
Metta World Peace. He recovered in time to return for the playoffs and was the
star of the Thunders fourth-quarter comeback to beat Dallas in the clinching
Game 4 of their opening round sweep. Although Harden is a bench player, coach
Scott Brooks refers to him as his sixth starter and gives him the minutes a
front-line player would normally get. His 31.4 minutes were second-most among
reserves this season—a touch less than Dallas Jason Terry—and more than
about half the starters in the league. “Most of the time in the second quarter
and the fourth quarter, Im out there with the starters finishing games,” Harden
said. “That came with that trust, from my rookie year to now, being out there in
the fourth quarter, hes giving me the ball, letting me make plays.” Lou
Williams, who led Philadelphia in scoring despite not starting a single game
this season, was second in the balloting. Harden got 115 of the 119 first-place
votes and three of the second-place votes, getting left of one ballot. Williams
got three first-place votes and Chicagos Taj Gibson got the other one. Terry,
the 2009 Sixth Man Award winner, was third in overall points and perhaps
demonstrated best to Harden what the top bench player can mean to a team during
the Mavericks run to last years NBA title—including a win over Oklahoma City
in the Western Conference finals. Harden said his view on not starting is: “If
were winning championships, I have no problem.” Thats not the way he felt after
getting drafted third overall in 2009. “At first, as a rookie, I didnt get it. I
just thought I was going to go out there and score and just do all the other
things that every other player thought,” Harden said. “It took me three years to
embrace that role.” Harden said everything changed after last seasons trade
deadline, when Green—who had been the teams third option behind All-Stars
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook—and fellow starter Krstic were traded away
for Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson. “At that point, he really understood
that I have to be more of an all-around player, to have an impact,” Brooks said.
Brooks decided to stick with defensive ace Thabo Sefolosha as his starting
shooting guard this season, but he made sure Harden understood that his minutes
would line up with the usual breaks for Durant and Westbrook and Harden could be
the featured player during those stretches. “You have an opportunity if you dont
start to be the facilitator and to be a scorer and to do everything during those
minutes that Russell and Kevin are on the bench getting their rest,” Brooks told
him. “Thats intriguing for James. He has six or seven minutes a half where he
has to do everything—keep the scoreboard moving and lead us on the defensive
end.” Harden shined, increasing his scoring output from 12.2 points per game to
16.8, improving his shooting percentage in all areas and recording more assists
in 62 games this season than he did in a full 82-game schedule a season earlier.
And now, he has something else to be known for besides his trademark beard and
that elbow to the head he took from World Peace. The 22-year-old is the
second-youngest player to win the Sixth Man Award and only the fifth of the 30
recipients to be 25 years old or younger. Ben Gordon was the youngest to win it,
at age 21 with Chicago in 2005. “He has a great game and he has a cool look. His
beard, that is a cool look,” Brooks said. “I didnt like it at first but its
growing on me. I would never want him to shave it.” Heath Miller Jersey . Andre Iguodala scored
19 of his 28 points in the second half, Samuel Dalembert had 11 points, 18
rebounds and five blocks, and the 76ers rallied for a 91-87 victory over the New
Jersey Nets on Saturday night. Troy Polamalu Jersey . Many of the hearings
come as a result of the chippy Game 2 between the Ottawa Senators and New York
Rangers. Senators defenceman Matt Carkner had a 20-25 minute hearing on Sunday
for instigating a fight with a somewhat unsuspecting Brian Boyle of the Rangers
Saturday night. http://www.nikepittsburghsteelersjerseyssale.com/antonio-brown-jersey?women=18
. When the six-foot-three, 265-pound defensive end began his senior season at
Western Kentucky last fall, it was with the knowledge he might be playing
football for the last time. James Harrison Jersey . Ichiro Suzuki went
3-for-5 with a run batted in, while Chone Figgins was 2- for-4 with a two-run
triple for the Mariners, who finished their six-game road trip with another
tight contest. Five of the six games were decided by one run, including the
first three, all Seattle losses in a White Sox series sweep. Ben Roethlisberger Womens Jersey . Theyre not
the only ones to do that lately, either. Kemp homered early and Los Angeles
hammered a struggling Santana before holding off the New York Mets 7-6 on Friday
night. OSLO, Norway—Ashley Young gave Roy Hodgson a winning start as England
coach on Saturday, clinching a 1-0 victory over Norway in the teams first
European Championship warmup match. Young combined with Andy Carroll after nine
minutes, scoring in his fourth consecutive international to provide Hodgson with
a potential striking partnership for the Euro 2012 opener against France on June
11 when Wayne Rooney is suspended. “I think he and Carroll have proved they can
do that job,” Hodgson told British broadcaster ITV. “Both of them were really
very good.” But two weeks after taking permanent charge of an England side
rocked by Fabio Capellos resignation in February, Hodgson had his first setback.
Gareth Barry, who replaced captain Steven Gerrard at halftime, limped off in the
73rd with a groin injury and the midfielder will undergo scans before the UEFA
squad deadline on Tuesday. “If its serious that will give me something to think
about as we dont have much time left,” Hodgson said. Englands victory in Norway
was its first since coming here ahead of winning the 1966 World Cup on home
soil. “It was a marvelous start to my career as the national team coach because
its not often Norway lose at home and its a long while since we have won here,”
Hodgson said. “I dont think you lay foundations in three days … I hope any
foundations we can lay will be in the coming weeks and months.” Less than half
the team that is likely to start Englands first Euro 2012 match against France
on June 11 made the starting lineup in Oslo. Goalkeeper Joe Hart stayed on the
bench and four Chelsea players were given an extended break after their
Champions League final win a week ago. Carroll was handed his first
international start in 14 months, earning just his fourth cap. And the
much-maligned forward came close to a fourth-minute oppener, latching onto a
cross from Liverpool teammate Stewart Downing, but heading wide. LaMarr Woodley Womens Jersey. . But it was
Young, supporting Carroll up front, who ensured Hodgsons reign started with an
early goal. Carroll flicked the ball from inside the England half to Young, who
raced forward and spun around Brede Hangeland before striking into the net. “Ive
just got to keep putting on a performance and well see what happens when it
comes to the Euros,” said Young. “I think it went well with Andy Carroll. Weve
worked on the partnership during training and there were a few good combinations
between us.” After Youngs opener, England goalkeeper Rob Green parried a rising
shot from Markus Henriksen which deflected off Leighton Baines, while an
inswinging corner from Norway midfielder Morten Gamst Pedersen struck the near
post. Captain Steven Gerrard was fortunate to stay on the pitch after a sliding
studs-up challenge on Tom Hogli in the 39th that led to the Norway defender
going off injured. Norway could have levelled when John Arne Riise easily
skipped past substitute Theo Walcott on the left flank, but from a tight angle
he sent the ball into the side netting. “At times we should have been a bit more
positive,” Hodgson said. “Theres an element of keeping the ball sometimes when
we maybe could have played it forward a bit earlier and get those two players
in. “Weve started talking about it and sowing a few seeds.” There were debuts
for winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who replaced Young in the 72nd, and defender
Martin , who came on for Phil Jones in the 88th, as England comfortably held on
for the win. Englands final match before Euro 2012 is at Wembley Stadium next
Saturday against Belgium. “Weve only been together with the new manager for a
few days but I think its gone OK so far,” Young said. ’ ’ ’ 

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