James Harden of the Houston Rockets once again had a game for the record books, tying his career high of 61 points in a win against the San Antonio Spurs.
James Harden, the league’s leading scorer, has been completely unstoppable this year. He scored at least 30 points in 32 consecutive games earlier this season, joining Wilt Chamberlain as the only players in NBA history to do so.
However, Harden has put up mind-blowing numbers in just the last two games. On Wednesday, Harden lit up the Memphis Grizzlies for 57 points and drilled 9 3-pointers. Not to be outdone, Harden followed that up with an even bigger scoring output on Friday, dropping 61 points against the San Antonio Spurs, the most ever scored against the storied franchise.
Over the last two games, The Beard is averaging 59 points and 9.0 3-pointers per game, not bad for a player who already leads the MVP race. Harden is now averaging 36.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 7.6 assists per game this season. He has even managed to score at least 30 points against every team in the NBA this year.
Harden has faced every defensive strategy imaginable this season, but no team has succeeded in slowing him down. Can anyone stop James Harden? Mike D’Antoni told USA Today that there is only one person who can stop Harden. The Rockets head coach himself.
“Me. I can sit him on the bench. That’s about it.”
Of course, the Rockets need to win every game possible as the regular season nears an end. Harden’s goal was to come out aggressive in this game, knowing that Houston needed to win, according to ESPN’s Michael C. Wright.
“I just knew how important this game was. This was to take a 3-1 [series] lead in the regular season. We gave up one last game. So this was an opportunity to take care of home. I wanted to come out with some aggressiveness.”
The Rockets are ahead one game of the Portland Trail Blazers for the third spot in the Western Conference standings. They’re four games back of both the Denver Nuggets and Golden State Warriors for the first seed. However, with only eight games remaining in the regular season, the Rockets are unlikely to catchup to Denver or Golden State unless one of those teams suffers a losing streak.
The Rockets will likely end up with either the third or fourth seed, however, their first round playoff opponent is still a complete toss-up. Seeds five through eight are separated by just one game. The race to the playoffs in the Western Conference will be fun to watch,