Originally posted on Fox Sports Southwest  |  Last updated 11/27/12
OKLAHOMA CITY Scott Brooks is known for his low-key approach, so when he said Wednesday's game against Houston was something bigger, it made an impression. After all, Brooks is a company man, loves to talk about the process and the practice. Every game counts the same, all 82 of 'em, so getting too high for the Lakers or showing disinterest in the Bobcats would be a disservice to his team. But Wednesday? Even Brooks couldn't temper, stifle or diminish the situation. "I want to beat the Rockets," Brooks dead-panned. "They traded me in the second championship year. It took me five years to get over it. It's still personal." Brooks brought the LOL Tuesday, deflecting the topic away from another Rockets-Thunder connection, but there won't be any avoiding it Wednesday when James Harden returns to Oklahoma City. "It's a fun game," Brooks said. "You're talking great environment." But really this game has implications far beyond a regular November matchup. It's a statement situation wrapped inside the mystery of potential validation. Sure, it's early, but don't count on it being to soon for both the Thunder and Rockets to project who's winning, or who's won, the trade that shook up Oklahoma City and re-worked a Houston roster. Brooks and the players wouldn't say it, and you can't blame them, but c'mon, you just know the Oklahoma City players will be doing everything they can to limit Harden. Both scenarios - How much have the Thunder missed Harden and how well can Harden carry a team, will not be answered Wednesday, but both will be seen. And you just know Harden will be doing everything he can to show the Thunder made a mistake when they traded him just days before the season started. And while the teams will play two more times this season, you also know some team is going to feel pretty validated after the final buzzer Wednesday, because so far this season, it's been hard to tell who's won the trade. "There's always emotions," Brooks said. "You also have to understand it's a business. The team has to make the best decisions for the team. We've moved forward and moved on and we'll continue to charge forward." No player seemed to have a better connection with fans than Harden did with the Thunder. A definite crowd favorite, maybe because of his beard, or maybe because of his 6th-man style, coming off the bench but playing like a star. Harden is gone, not forgotten, but replaced. Kevin Martin is the new 6th-man, providing a comparable amount of scoring with a diminished amount of flair. Martin and Harden have switched roles. Harden, going from an important piece off the bench to the star of the team. Martin, in his ninth season in the league, has gone from star to complementary piece. Both have thrived. Martin is averaging 15.7 points per game. Harden is getting a team-high 25.2. And now Martin gets a chance at his former team, too. People seem to forget that. As much as folks want to make this about how Harden is missed, Martin will be dealing with the same set of emotions as he plays against the team where he suited up for more than two seasons. "I've been in the league nine years. I have nothing personal with anything," Martin said. "That's for everyone else to make anything they want to make out of it. Any big trade, people would think that. We're both doing great in the situations we're in." That situation has the Thunder at 10-4 and the Rockets at 6-7. The situation, as Brooks and his charges say, is not a Thunder-vs.-Harden game, but somewhere it has to be whether it's behind the curtain or on the stat sheet. There's no question, it's more emotional for the guy playing against his former team," Brooks said. "We need to beat the Rockets. It's not just James. When you come back and play against the team you've been traded, there's more emotions there. It's important that we focus on beating them and not just what he does." But what he does is make the Rockets go. Stop Harden, and the Thunder should thrive. He's the team's leading scorer on the fifth-highest scoring team in the league. "He has the green light and plays freely and can basically do what he wants," Thunder guard Russell Westbrook said. "Our job is not to worry about slowing James down. As long as we play team defense we'll be alright." More importantly, stop Harden and the Thunder can say they won the trade, that they don't miss him, that everything will be fine, or even better. For now.
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Rams owner buys massive 520,000-acre Texas ranch

Cam Newton explains why he did not dive on fumble

George Karl’s agent rips Kings, wants broadcaster reprimanded

WATCH: Popovich has funny reaction to New Hampshire results

Suns vets pull packing peanut prank on rookie Devin Booker

Teammate gives Manning final completion ball from Super Bowl


Report: Ole Miss Football cited in 13 of 28 department violations by NCAA

Larry Sanders to consider NBA comeback after other interests stabilize

The NCAAB power rankings

SEC begins crying foul over Jim Harbaugh’s spring break plans at Michigan

Marc Gasol reportedly out indefinitely with broken foot

Patriots waive Montee Ball despite never officially re-signing running back

WATCH: Blackhawks coach walks out of press conference

Greg McElroy: Cam Newton 'quit on his team'

Tennis umpires secretly banned over gambling issues

WATCH: Dancing Kentucky fan slides down rail, fails

Clemson LB has great response to NFL draft analyst's criticism

Former Aggies QB Kyle Allen reveals culture problems at Texas A&M

Roy Williams collapses during game vs. BC

Panthers TE Greg Olsen shaves off his playoff beard

Derek Fisher thanks Knicks in statement

Miami Heat to honor Shaq by retiring his number 32

Oakland Raiders release Nate Allen

B.J. Penn announces he will return at UFC 197

Bring back the Dunk Contest

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The NCAAB power rankings

Report: Kings to keep coach George Karl

Was Alain Vigneault right about NHL's lack of punishment towards Wayne Simmonds?

Report: Knicks fire coach Derek Fisher

The best and worst commercials from Super Bowl 50

Best and worst from Super Bowl 50

Six best plays from Super Bowl 50

Eli doesn't look thrilled as Peyton wins Super Bowl

Did Beyonce almost fall down during Super Bowl halftime show?

Curry to serve as drummer for Panthers

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker