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Already during the Brooklyn Nets warm-up before facing the Orlando Magic, the social networks they fumed: James Harden not only seemed happy but was even, suddenly, thinner. Younger, slimmer and in the physical shape of the 2018 MVP. Stuff. The trade (a sequence of two actually) with the Houston Rockets, Cleveland Cavaliers and Indiana Pacers hadn’t been officially completed until hours earlier and Harden, of course, hadn’t even trained with his new teammates. But he put on his new jersey (a different one from the Rockets for the first time in more than 8 years) and with the sky blue of the alternate Nets uniform he downloaded 32 points, 12 rebounds and 14 assists. Also 4 robberies and also 9 losses. He made 8 of his 18 shots with 3/10 on 3s and 13/15 on free throws.

And the Nets won, of course (122-115). But they suffered against a Magic very punished by injuries, who accumulate five defeats in a row and who pushed with the points of Terrence Ross (23) and a spectacular game (of which no one will speak) of Nikola Vucevic: 34 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists, 5 steals, 6/12 in triples. The story, in any case, was on the other side of the court, in Kevin Durant’s first game together (he finished with 42 points and his season average is already 30.7) and James Harden since they closed the 2012 Finals with a loss, still with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Never in OKC, by the way, did they score 74 points in the same game.

Looking askance at what was being said during the game, it seemed that there were not a few people who needed to be reminded of how good Harden can be. How easy he takes free throws or how well he distributes the game. His first points were free throws near the end of the first quarter. In the second he put a tray in and warmed up: 11 points in the third quarter and the first triple-double with more than 30 from a player in his debut with a new team. From his passes came a 14/19 from his teammates with a, eye6/6 from Kevin Durant, who appeared to be rubbing his hands. Joe Harris also: the sniper he finished with 17 points and 4 triples. From now on he will live in an ideal situation, almost always alone, in an attack that can be historically productive and which is still missing Kyrie Irving. Steve Nash, in charge of ordering this luxurious new house, assured that he is about to return (he has been six games away for personal issues) and that he wants the return to be smooth and with a good preparation, without forcing to leave the first photo of the big three. Durant, by the way, made it clear after the game that Harden is the natural base of the team, so surely Kyrie will have an adaptation task.

It will have been noticed by my game and by my smileHarden said when asked after the game if he was happy. His body language has changed radically, after having to tarnish his image enough for the Rockets to be forced to accelerate their transfer. With the face of The end justifies the means (this is a business and everything else) assured that they go “to be scary “ as soon as I am back Kyrie and the new big three hit the track. The Magic, in a very delicate moment, gave war to some Nets obviously conditioned by the special circumstances of the game and the appearance of a new teammate with a massive presence. Harden hit a triple house brand almost at the end of the third quarter and his team took a command (84-83) that no longer yielded in the last quarter although things were very up in the air (110-107) with less than four minutes remaining. Bruce Brown, neither Harden nor Durant, scored the triple that opened the final gap (117-107) but between the two stars they put signature or assists in 107 of the 122 points of their team. And Kyrie Irving is missing. Strong emotions are coming in Brooklyn.

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