Houston Rockets: James Harden’s 15 most captivating performances

By Josh Cornelissen
James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /
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Photo by Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images
Photo by Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images /

15. February 28, 2018

Line: 25 points, 3 rebounds, 7 assists, 3-10 3-pointers, 8-9 free throws, +17

The 2017-18 NBA season was a magical one for James Harden and the Houston Rockets as they ended with the best record in the league. Late February saw the Rockets in the midst of a 28-1 run that secured their position as the top seed, with the Rockets in Los Angeles to face the Clippers.

Six weeks earlier the Rockets had been at Staples Center as well and lost to the Clippers, sparking a postgame altercation involving tunnels, a Trojan Horse and plenty of misinformation.

It was former Clipper Chris Paul’s first return to Los Angeles, and the loss — just their 12th of the year — put them 0-2 against a Clippers team unlikely to make the postseason.

That put pressure on the Rockets to come away with a win in their third meeting on Feb 28, and the team delivered. Harden had plenty of help in this one, leading the way with an efficient 25 points on 14 shots for a +17 on/off rating in a 105-92 victory. That included a 31-7 start to the game capped by one of the most disrespectful plays in NBA history.

Guarded by the incredibly competent Wesley Johnson, Harden broke out his now-famous stepback 3-pointer. When Johnson’s ankles broke and he collapsed to the court, Harden simply stared him down for long seconds before sliding his left foot behind the line and draining the 3-pointer.

In a season full of dominant performances, Harden’s signature play may have been this complete destruction of Wesley Johnson.

Next: November 9, 2017