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James Harden On Where The Rockets Stand After Losing To Lakers: "I Feel Like We're A Piece Away."

James Harden On Where The Rockets Stand After Losing To Lakers: "I Feel Like We're A Piece Away."

The Houston Rockets were eliminated by the Los Angeles Lakers from playoffs contention after a blowout loss in Game 5 of the series. LeBron James went off with 29 points, 11 rebounds and 7 assists to lead the purple and gold to the promised land. The Rockets tried to succeed this season with their small-ball lineup but none of that worked against the Lakers and their King.

James Harden and Russell Westbrook received a lot of criticism for their performances in the West semis when they had terrible games and couldn't get the job done when the ball was hotter. After that Game 1, things fell apart for the Rockets, who had no response for the Lakers from that moment.

Even though they suffered a painful loss against one of the favorites to the title, the Rockets remain optimistic ahead of next season, especially James Harden, who tried to explain what is the last thing the Rockets need to take that final step and become the best team in the West and the whole league.

"It's very, very frustrating," Harden said postgame when talking about another early playoff exit.

"Especially the amount of work that individually I put in. I'm just gonna keep chipping away. I feel like we're a piece away. We’ve just got to keep trying to figure it out, keep trying to grow and put the right pieces around me and Russ [Westbrook] to get to where we want to go. We’ve got to look at our entire team and see what direction we want to go.

"Obviously, [for] half of the season, we tried the small ball. It worked for the most part. So, we’ve just got to take an overall look at our team and see what holes we need to fill, and go from there."

The Rockets need to act carefully this offseason. People are wondering if Mike D'Antoni will return as head coach and even if Harden and Westbrook will stay after this season.

Ahead of the 2019/20 campaign, several people believed Russ wasn't going to be a good fit for Harden, and even though they managed to play well before the shutdown, once they landed in the bubble all that good work disappeared.

Russ was dealing with injuries and that surely had something to do with his performances but it's not 100% sure that he will return to the team next campaign. Harden, meanwhile, is confident Westbrook will stay and has already stated that Houston should try to bring another piece to take that final step.