James Harden was adamant all season that he doesn't need any rest during the NBA season.
That could change next season after Harden put forth one of most putrid performances by a star player in NBA postseason history.
The Houston Rockets star had just 10 points on 2-of-11 shooting and committed six turnovers on Thursday as his club was steamrolled 114-75 by the San Antonio Spurs in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals. San Antonio won the series, four games to two, and totally shut down Harden over the final six quarters.
Harden had just 10 points on 3-of-11 shooting and committed six turnovers during the second half of Game 5.
The ending made it a down note for Harden, who averaged 29.1 points, 11.2 assists and 8.1 rebounds during the regular season when he missed just one game, due to illness.
Houston coach Mike D'Antoni asserted that rest is something that will happen occasionally next season.
"All great players think they can do everything," D'Antoni told reporters. "Maybe he does need to take a game off here and there. 'Hey, you're nicked up a little bit, don't play, maybe.' Something to talk about, but that's also his greatness, too. So it's hard. It's very delicate.
"And again, I feel so sorry for him because he's had an unbelievable (season). I mean, he's had a historic year, and you can't just say, 'OK, one game ...' and all of the sudden, social media goes crazy. ... But he will get better.
"We will talk about it. I can help him. The offense will get better. I can get him off the ball some. I can save his legs a little bit and have more confidence (in other ball handlers). Pat Beverley can run the team a little bit. We can do different things."
While D'Antoni and the rest of the players were required to address Thursday's porous effort, Harden was nowhere to be found on Friday's exit interview day.
Harden took responsibility for Houston's poor performance in the postgame press conference. Then Rockets general manager Daryl Morey and D'Antoni briefly spoke with Harden and decided to "give him some space."
Morey said Harden was devastated and that the organization will soon schedule a meeting with him to discuss the offseason.
Morey also feels the MVP candidate is receiving too much criticism for the team's ouster.
"Obviously, you see (he) had a tough game," Morey said. "But to me it's a joke to get on him, because we're not where we are (without Harden). "The guy that's hardest on James is James."
D'Antoni figures the Rockets can approach this season's 55-win campaign and perhaps be better.
He also said he will make sure Harden has more help -- and make adjustments to his playing time.
"He's had a historic season, and we can get that better," D'Antoni said. "Obviously, we'll sit down. Save his energy, play him less, manage it better. ... We'll work that together. One game can't erase nine months of work."
Harden didn't feel he was fatigued in Thursday's loss. He credited the Spurs for causing his issues.
"I really just didn't have a rhythm at the beginning of the game," Harden said. "I feel like I was making some passes, and we just didn't knock down shots or whatever the case may be. As a team, as a unit, we didn't have a rhythm and they capitalized on that."