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James Harden wins Western Conference Player of the Week

Plus, loads of good writing about the Rockets' contender status in today's Rocket Fuel.

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

James Harden is playing like the MVP. We knew this already, but I will not get tired of reading people say that. The Rockets are great and Dwight Howard will only make them better. We knew this already, too. Plus, at least one of our dear readers knew that Dwight and Donatas Motiejunas would be good together.

Basically, what I'm saying is there's tons of Rockets stuff elsewhere on the Internet, but what you need is either already on our site or linked in Rocket Fuel /end plug.

James Harden Named Player of the Week |

The Beard's crazy stat line in the Rockets' 2-1 week: 34 points (on .443/.348/.857 shooting), 7.3 assists, 7.0 rebounds, 2.7 steals and a block per game. He singlehandedly beat the Kings on Thursday night with 44 points and got a triple-double on Saturday night, even though it was in kind of hilarious fashion.

Five things we learned in the Rockets’ 108-96 win over the Nuggets on Saturday | Ultimate Rockets

We missed getting a recap and game thread up for this one. I apologize to the readers who came to The Dream Shake on Saturday looking for their regular game coverage. We got our wires crossed and it won't happen again (we hope). Here's Feigen's "five things" from Saturday's game, which is always a must-read.

Dwight Howard's return makes the Rockets even more terrifying |

Time to remind the NBA: the Rockets have lost just one game with Dwight Howard in the lineup. You've been warned.

Motiejunas, Howard show low post can handle both | Houston Chronicle

McHale on the Dwight-Donuts combo: "Although those two haven't worked together, when (opposing teams) front and they do other things to take that away, they both have to be able to go high-low. They both have to be able to play well together for that to really work well."

James Harden Beats the MVP Drum | Hardwood Paroxysm

Hey, we wrote something that argues this (far more convincingly, in my humble opinion) today.

Tarik Black's Story Just Keeps Getting Better for Houston Rockets | Bleacher Report

Kelly Scaletta has an excellent piece here on just how far Tarik Black had come. He played just 13.5 minutes per game in his senior season at Kansas and averaged 5 and 4. As a starter for the Rockets, he was one of the best offensive rebounders in the league. He's not a small reason for Houston's 18-5 record.

Sources: Rockets aggressively pursuing deals to use trade exception | Yahoo Sports

From Yahoo Sports: Houston wants to use its $8.4 million trade exception before Dec. 19, so the team has the option of trading the acquired player. I'll let ak2themax on the TDS listserve handle this: "Daryl is trying to trade for someone? Woj dropping a bomb that I never would have expected. /s"

How the Bucks Decided to Buckle Down and Play for the Future | Grantland

Every Zach Lowe story is worth reading if you love the NBA, but a familiar face was No. 1 in his 10 Things I like and Don't Like:

James Harden is a legit MVP candidate, but don’t sleep on Motiejunas, shooting 50 percent and holding the fort at both big-man positions for the red-hot Rockets as Dwight Howard and Terrence Jones nurse injuries. Motiejunas has shot 28-of-47 (60 percent) on post-ups, per Synergy, and he’s straight clowning guys with a tricky array of pump fakes, up-and-unders, and hooks he can unleash with either hand. Houston is playing through Motiejunas — think about that! — at times when Harden rests. He’s still developing as a defender and he can struggle on the glass, but this is heady stuff for a guy who had to fight just to crack the rotation.