);
Oklahoma City Thunder

James Harden praises Oklahoma City Thunder rookie Luguentz Dort: 'He's going to have a great career'

Luguentz Dort has James Harden's full respect.

Following a tightly contested Game 7 that saw the Houston Rockets outlast the Oklahoma City Thunder to advance to the second round, Harden was asked about what he saw from the Montreal native in the series.

"He's worked his butt off, even since college, you know, when I would go back to Arizona State, he worked his butt off, and it's showing," Harden said. "Obviously he played extremely well tonight on the offensive end - he made a lot of shots - but he just plays his butt off. He doesn't care about anything but playing hard.

"As a young guy coming into this league, that's all you can ask for. Learning how to play, and learning defensive schemes and offensive schemes, the total package of being an NBA player is going to come. But he has the right mindset of just playing hard and playing balls to the wall and not caring what anyone thinks. He's going to have a great career."

Dort struggled with his shot for much of the series, but he came alive in Game 7 with a game-high 30 points on 10-for-21 shooting from the field and 6-for-12 from 3-point range. Dort made history in the process, surpassing LeBron James with the most points scored in a Game 7 by a player 21 and younger.

Dort was able to make life difficult for Harden on the other end of the court throughout the series. According to NBA.com, Dort limited Harden to a total of 65 points on 17-for-54 shooting from the field and 10-for-38 from 3-point range on the possessions they were matched up with together.

Dort had far more success guarding the eight-time All-Star and three-time scoring champion than anyone else on the Thunder.

Matchup data on James Harden in first round of 2020 NBA Playoffs
Defender Points FGM-FGA 3PM-3PA
Luguentz Dort 65 17-54 (31.5%) 10-38 (26.3%)
Dennis Schroder 43 17-28 (60.7%) 6-11 (54.5%)
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander 25 10-16 (62.5%) 2-7 (28.6%)
Steven Adams 15 5-9 (55.6%) 1-2 (50.0%)
Danilo Gallinari 13 4-10 (40.0%) 3-8 (37.5%)
Chris Paul 12 4-5 (80.0%) 0-0 (0.0%)
Terrance Ferguson 8 3-5 (60.0%) 2-4 (50.0%)
Nerlens Noel 16 3-6 (50.0%) 1-4 (25.0%)

After going undrafted in the 2019 NBA Draft, Dort finished his rookie season averaging 6.8 points, 3.2 rebounds and 0.8 assists over 36 games, 28 of which he started in. He bumped those numbers up to 12.5 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.0 assists in the playoffs.

Dort signed a multi-year contract with the Thunder earlier in the season.

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