James Harden says Rockets already feeling heat as teams target Houston with tough play

LOS ANGELES – James Harden has warned his Houston Rockets teammates that life with be tougher this season – because they are now one of the NBA’s “targeted” teams.

The Rockets have had a slow start, winning just once in three games, with the sole victory coming in the infamous fight-marred matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers.

That was sandwiched between defeats at home to the New Orleans Pelicans and at the L.A. Clippers, and Harden already has noticed a trend.

“For sure,” he said, when asked if teams are playing tougher and more physically against Houston this season. “The success we have been having, obviously we haven’t won a championship yet, but the way we have been playing we have done pretty well.

“So whenever we are at home and teams come to our home court, or we are on the road, they get up for us so we have got to be ready for that. They play harder, they play a lot more confident. We just got to figure it out.”

The Pelicans, led by dominant center Anthony Davis, thumped the Rockets by 19 points. On Saturday in L.A., the Lakers also brought physicality and intensity, and the fiery nature of the contest set the foundation for the violent flurry that ultimately led to a two-game ban for Chris Paul. (The Lakers' Brandon Ingram and Rajon Rondo also were suspended).

The Clippers also seemed energized at the prospect of facing a team picked by many as a genuine contender for the championship, and were worthy three-point winners.

“Don’t write us off yet,” new addition Carmelo Anthony said, with a smile. “From what I have seen, I think (the team) is in the same position we was in last year. Trying to work it out, figure it out and get it going.”

Last season, however, the Rockets beat Golden State in the first game, won 16 of the first 20, and ended up with 65 wins and a No. 1 seed.

But Anthony was adamant that the changes implemented in the off-season, including his arrival, would take some time to reap rewards.

“(Teams) can target us, but we got to get better, we all know that,” Anthony added. “It is an early three games, we will get better, we will figure it out as the season goes along. We know what is at stake, we know what we want, we know what we got to do. … Anything new doesn’t happen and doesn’t come together overnight.”

Follow Rogers on Twitter @RogersJourno

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