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Marcus Smart gives James Harden an Oscar-worthy praise for flops

James Harden’s shooting prowess has taken a slight dip since his MVP season, but the Houston Rockets guard’s affinity for getting to the foul line is a talent hated by some and admired by others. Drawing contact is a part of the game, but a player like James Harden has turned it into an art form, something Boston Celtics defensive ace Marcus Smart has learned to respect over the years.

“He flops on offense just like I flop on defense,” said Smart, according to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon and Michael C. Wright. “He’s been in the league a long time, and he’s built that reputation. It’s hard to guard him knowing that, at any given moment, you can get called for a foul.

“He does a really good job of using his body and using the rules to his advantage.”

Smart has had a few Oscar-worthy flops during his tenure with the Celtics, and some which have drawn a warning from the league office, while The Beard’s antics have gone largely unpunished, as the referees are the ones fooled by being quick to the whistle.

Harden’s constant flopping has been the reason for many technical fouls on opposing players, some even resulting in ejections after players make their grievances heard by the referees.

Through 17 games this season, Harden is putting up his second-best free-throw attempt average of his career, getting to the line a whopping 10.4 times per game while knocking down his free throws at a 82.5 percent clip.

Harden has even managed praise from division rivals, like Devin Harris of the Dallas Mavericks.

“It’s just years of experience,” said Harris. “And learning how to — how do I put this delicately — how to create certain things in the refs’ eyes to make them want to call fouls.”

Hate it or love it, James Harden has gotten to the stripe 10 or more times in eight of his 17 games played, a trend that is likely to continue as he barrels his way to the rim and fools players into biting for his pump fake.

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