The taste of disappointment wasn't the only thing that carried over into the Houston Rockets' locker room following their elimination by the Golden State Warriors in the second round of the NBA playoffs.
After several tense moments between star guards James Harden and Chris Paul throughout Game 6, they got into a verbal exchange about ball distribution postgame that continued off the court, sources told The Athletic's Shams Charania.
It reportedly wasn't the first time members of the Rockets took issue with the team's style of play. Throughout the season, multiple players - including Paul - pushed for head coach Mike D'Antoni to introduce more ball movement, league sources told Charania.
The brand of basketball those Rockets players apparently suggested was similar to that of D'Antoni's Phoenix Suns teams, which reached back-to-back Western Conference finals with Hall of Fame point guard Steve Nash leading the offense.
However, Harden's performance in isolation as the Rockets' leading playmaker and shot creator helped the club to a 53-29 record after a slow 9-11 start. Harden averaged a career-high 36.1 points per contest and, during a torrid stretch, scored at least 30 points in 32 straight games. The seven-time All-Star was recently named one of three finalists for league MVP.
Harden had 35 points on 11-of-25 shooting while adding eight boards, five assists, and four steals in Houston's Game 6 loss to a Golden State team that was without star forward Kevin Durant. Paul also contributed 27 points, 11 boards, and six assists in the defeat.
D'Antoni has one year remaining on his current deal but is already in negotiations regarding an extension.
The Rockets fell one game short of the NBA Finals in 2018.