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James Harden’s disappearing act in another playoff fourth quarter is so on brand it’s painful to watch

It is one thing to be an exceptionally great player. It is something else entirely to channel and tap into that greatness in the exceptionally important and pressure-filled moments of the NBA playoffs.

That reality — and the stark gulf between greatness in the moment, and greatness overwhelmed by it — was on vivid display Thursday night in the Lakers‘ 110-100 win over the Houston Rockets to put them up 3-1 in the second-round playoff series.

On one end of this equation, behold LeBron James: Even with a mild 16 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists he was the quintessential winner, and his team followed suit.

On the other, see James Harden: 2 of 11, a misleading 21 points on the night, most coming at the free-throw line, as the Beard braved literally nothing in a fourth quarter in which he did not take a single shot.

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