Where do James Harden, far left, and Jeremy Lin, second from left, rank against the NBA's Top Five duos? (Photo : Reuters)
How good are Jeremy Lin and James Harden together?
Not even a serious cut could stop one-half of the NBA's hottest duo as Lin rebounded from a five-stitch cut to combine with Harden for 49 points in a Saturday win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Lin, who was bloodied following a third quarter collision during a Friday game against Milwaukee, came back strong for 20 points, five assists and a steal while Harden, the fifth best scorer in the NBA with 26.4 points per contest, recorded 29 points, three assists and a stunning seven steals.
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Together, Lin and Harden have been powering the Rockets to a 20-14 record and four straight wins as Houston shoots to make the playoffs for the first time since the 2008-09 season. And Houston's fast-paced offense, tops in the NBA in scoring at 106.2 per game, can be credited in large part to the playmaking and scoring of these two stars.
In addition, both Lin and Harden are on the cusp of making the 2013 NBA All-Star Game, ranking third and fourth respectively in fan voting--the only starting backcourt in the NBA to receive such high ballot counts.
But where do these two stand when compared to some of the other great star tandems in the NBA?
Latinos Post takes a look at some of the other top 1-2 combinations around the league:
LeBron James and Dwayne Wade
As far as Dynamic Duos go, King James and Wade are a regular Batman and Robin. When they came together with Chris Bosh in South Beach during the Summer of 2010, questions abounded about whether or not these two could play together. Would Wade get in James' way? Whose team was it? How long before the inevitable in-fighting between these two superstars led to a fallout that would tear Miami apart?
Those doubts were all but erased about a season later, when the sight of Wade feeding James on a fast break or James alley-ooping to Wade for a thunderous dunk became common sights at the American Airlines Arena and on ESPN highlights. And whatever lingered were completely eradicated after these two helped hoist Miami's second-ever NBA Championship trophy last season after a stellar playoff run that saw them beat some of the best the league had to offer.
James, ranked fourth in scoring with 26.5 points a night, and Wade, seventh with 20.4 points per game, provide the solid one-two scoring punch that Miami was hoping for when they assembled this team two seasons ago. They literally are "the rock and the hard place"--opponents can avoid one, but the other will hurt you just as badly.
Added with Bosh, is it a wonder why the world champion Heat are the team to beat in the NBA this season?
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook
At 24 years old, Durant, averaging 28.2 points for No.3 on the league's scoring list, may be the deadliest scorer in the NBA. When he drives to the lane, he almost always finds a way to score. And even if that's closed off, his shooting touch, a lethal 52.4 percent in the last 10 games, can still burn a team.
His partner in crime, Westbrook, brings an athleticism that has made him one of the most feared players in the league at the point guard position. Averaging 21.9 points (sixth best league-wide) 8.5 assists (fifth-best) and 2.12 steals (fourth-best), he's a terror to guard and a terrific playmaker.
With an NBA Finals appearance under their belt and looking better than they've ever been (and that's a scary concept) it shouldn't shock anyone if these two end up going all the way to the championship this season.
Tony Parker and Tim Duncan
For the better part of a decade, these two have helped make San Antonio a basketball powerhouse, powering the Spurs to three NBA titles (2003, 2005, 2007) in the last decade and having brought San Antonio within two games of the Finals last season.
Duncan has fallen off a step, but averaging 17.7 points, 2.5 blocks and 9.6 rebounds in his this, his 15th season, he's still better than about 90 percent of those at the four.
Meanwhile, Parker, notching 19.1 points and 7.3 assists this season, has been as deadly as he ever has been, providing San Antonio with a crafty ball handler with ice water in his veins during clutch situations. And together, these two provide the Spurs with the unselfish play and veteran smarts that have made their synchronized, poetry-in-motion, pass-heavy scoring system into the third best team offense (105.3 points per game) in the league.
Could another title run be in their future?
Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings
Ellis and Jennings are as good a young duo as any team in the NBA.
Perhaps the East's answer to Harden and Lin, both of these Bucks players have been sensational this season, and a big part as to why Milwaukee is in the thick of the race for the Central Division crown.
Ellis, No. 12 in the NBA in scoring (19.4 points) provides Milwaukee with a torrid scorer who can drop 30 points on a team while dishing out as many as eight or nine assists per night.
Jennings, with 17.8 points and 5.8 assists, brings a speedy stealth to the point guard position, while his 2.2 steals, third best in the NBA, makes him a valuable component on Milwaukee's defense.
Together, these two should make Milwaukee a perennial playoff face for years to come.
Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett
Typically, Garnett is paired more often with Celtics star Paul Pierce, but with both Pierce and Garnett in the twilight of their careers, Rondo will be the one to inherit the legacy of the Celtics once the era of Boston's Big Three has come and gone.
Garnett, averaging 14.7 points and 7.0 rebounds this season, isn't as explosive as he used to be on offense, but his passion for the game burns as brightly as ever. The emotional leader of the Celtics is still the driving force behind Boston's success and their scrappy play each game. And on defense, he's still as tough as he ever was, never giving an inch to opposing players.
Rondo, with 13.2 points and an astounding 11.3 assists (No.1 in the NBA this season) has had plenty of big game experience, helping Boston hoist their 17th NBA Championship in 2008 and having only gotten better since, capable of slashing to the lane for an easy two points and finding the open man through a crowd of defenders. His speed makes him a nightmare for opponents to deal with.
For however long they have left playing on the same court, Rondo and Garnett will make the Celtics a team to be reckoned with.