Thursday, May 3, 2018

James Harden And Chris Paul Are Ready To Bring An NBA Championship Back To Houston

The Houston Rockets have made no secret about their confidence in their championship aspirations. Harden's slightly more ambiguous, though still clear declaration that they are worthy challengers to the Warriors' reign and believe they can win a postseason series, as they have the regular-season series.

The idea, however, drives more than conversation. The Rockets have cited their pursuit of a championship for everything from a determination to improve a team that already has the league's best record to their acceptance of diminished roles as general manager Daryl Morey added players for Mike D'Antoni to squeeze into his rotation. They have been on a united mission to be the best.

In some ways, it's to be expected. If the Rockets did not think they could win a championship after having this seasons best record, that would be more newsworthy than them continuing to like their chances right? Most would say so.

During the regular season Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni said - ”The biggest thing is try to develop championship habits," "We just have to get better. Winning will come if we do that.

"We don't necessarily talk every day about our bigger goal, but developing good habits, we do."

They do refer to that as "championship habits" and D'Antoni does not cringe when his players confidently cite that goal. He even said last month, when discussing how the offensive style that was ridiculed in Phoenix is now widely accepted, "We could've won it back then, we could win it now."

Early skeptics of the Houston Rockets' superstar guard pairing frequently pointed to crunch time, predicting that James Harden and Chris Paul would have problems figuring out how to share the ball with the game on the line.

The basketball world had to wait almost two months to get its first glimpse of the clutch dynamic with the Rockets' ball-dominant duo due to a knee injury that sidelined Paul and Houston's dominance upon his return. It finally happened on Dec. 9, when the Rockets trailed the Portland Trail Blazers by three points with five minutes remaining.

Well, let's just say the skeptics were proved wrong that night in Portland, and ever since.

"It was layup, layup, layup, 3-ball," Harden said after the Rockets finished off the 124-117 win by ripping off 21 points in the final five minutes, all scored or assisted by Paul or Harden. Houston was 7-of-7 from the floor in that closing stretch.
Harden and Paul haven't just hushed any doubt about whether they can coexist in crunch time; they've been great as a clutch duo.

Rockets 108, opponents 59 is the cumulative score in just 31 clutch minutes that Harden and Paul have played together, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The Rockets' offensive efficiency in that time: 161.7 points per 100 possessions. How's that for Clutch City?

Those remarkable numbers make Harden and Paul the most prolific closing 1-2 punch of the more than 5,700 duos who have played at least 30 clutch minutes together since the start of the 2007-08 season, as far back as ESPN Stats & Information's access to on-court/off-court data reaches.

MVP front-runner James Harden says he believes this season is "the year" for the Houston Rockets.

"This is the year. For sure," Harden told ESPN when asked what his expectations for the Rockets were this season.

"This is probably the best team I've ever been a part of, from top to bottom. The chemistry that we have, included with the coaching staff -- I mean, we're having a lot of fun."

"I'm happy," Harden said, "happier than I've ever been."

Winning will do that, but the Rockets believe the attitude that had filled their locker room since training camp led to the winning, rather than having all the good feelings coming from the success on the floor.

Two seasons removed from the tension-filled slide to 41-41, one regular-season since the Game 6 meltdown that eliminated the Rockets last spring, the Rockets have rolled through the season content not just with roles or success, but at ease with the aspirations they openly shared well before the goals were matched with their record.

Exercise an Antidote for Aging

If you want to counter the physical costs of getting old, regular exercise might be your best option, researchers report.

The findings "debunk the assumption that aging automatically makes us more frail," said researcher Janet Lord. She is director of the Institute of Inflammation and Ageing at the University of Birmingham in England.

In the study, the team assessed 84 male and 41 female cyclists, aged 55 to 79. The men had to be able to cycle 62 miles in under 6.5 hours, while the women had to be able to cycle 37 miles in 5.5 hours.

Unlike a "control group" of adults who did not get regular exercise, the cyclists did not have loss of muscle mass or strength, did not have age-related increases in body fat or cholesterol levels, and their immune systems were as robust as much younger people.

Make Losing Weight a Family Affair

Is your family struggling with overweight or obesity?

To lose weight, take a team approach. Studies show that when overweight parents shed pounds, so do their overweight kids.

Parents hold the keys to positive behaviors that encourage a healthy weight, from doing the food shopping and cooking to getting kids involved in sports and other fitness activities.

Even if there's one family member who doesn't need to lose weight, everyone will enjoy better health by putting the focus on more nutritious eating and being active as a forever lifestyle, rather than just going on a temporary diet.

One of the most important changes you can make is cutting out all junk food, soda and even juice because it's high in natural sugars. Switch to alternatives like milk & water. Have fruits & vegetables within reach for healthy snacks, and wean kids off greasy chips with whole grain crackers.

Next, rebalance the amount of time spent watching TV and spent exercising -- limiting screen time helps kids lose weight. Be sure to turn off the TV during meals for more mindful eating.

Try this family weight-loss action plan:
- Set limits on portion sizes to curb calories.  
- Eliminate sugary drinks.  
- Limit TV and computer time to 2 hours a day.  
- Increase fun family fitness activities.  
- Celebrate health achievements with non-food rewards like going to the movies.

It's also worth repeating that when parents sit down with kids at the dinner table, kids eat healthier, and family relationships benefit from the social interaction.

Be sure to communicate these new behaviors to your extended family and all caregivers so they'll know to support your efforts.