Sports

Harden, Houston Rockets focused on improving defense after first-round playoff exit in 2014

  • Houston Rockets' James Harden dances while being filmed NBA basketball media day Monday, Sept. 29, 2014, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

    Houston Rockets' James Harden dances while being filmed NBA basketball media day Monday, Sept. 29, 2014, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)  (The Associated Press)

  • Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard is sprayed with water as he goes through a simulated workout while being filmed during NBA basketball media day Monday, Sept. 29, 2014, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

    Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard is sprayed with water as he goes through a simulated workout while being filmed during NBA basketball media day Monday, Sept. 29, 2014, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)  (The Associated Press)

  • Houston Rockets' Trevor Ariza poses for a photographer NBA basketball media day Monday, Sept. 29, 2014, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

    Houston Rockets' Trevor Ariza poses for a photographer NBA basketball media day Monday, Sept. 29, 2014, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)  (The Associated Press)

James Harden was the target of plenty of criticism for his defense after the Houston Rockets were bounced from the playoffs in the first round last season on a last-second shot by Portland's Damian Lillard.

Harden finished fifth in the league in scoring with 25.4 points a game, but was chided for his defense. There was even a YouTube video devoted to his subpar defensive skills that got almost 1.5 million views.

Harden addressed his defensive shortcomings on the eve of the start of Rockets camp on Monday and knows he'll have to improve to help Houston to the next level.

He says: "Obviously at times my defense is pretty bad ... I know I have to be better."