James Harden scored his third 50-point game of the season for the Houston Rockets with 57 points in a 112-94 blowout victory against the Memphis Grizzlies (19-24).
The Rockets (25-18) are first place in the Southwest Division. With the win, they improved to 16-6 at home. Three starters did not play with Chris Paul, Clint Capela, and Eric Gordon sidelined due to injuries. The victory also marked a 600th career win for Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni.
Harden scoring 57 points is not extraordinary. However, the fact he quickly bounced back from a horrid 1-for-17 shooting night the previous game in Orlando is what puts Harden in a class of his own.
“He comes off a game where he was 1 for 17 and everybody’s saying whatever and it just doesn’t even faze him,” said teammate Austin Rivers. “He just comes in tonight like he was 17 for 17. That’s just the mindset that the great ones have. I’m telling you right now, if another player went 1 for 17 they would have come in tonight a little messed up. James comes in and that’s just why he is who he is and it’s impressive.”
Against the Memphis Grizzlies, Harden scored 36 points in the first half to extend his streak of 30-point games to 17 in a row.
In only 36 minutes, Harden connected on six three-pointers (on 6-for-15 from beyond the arc) and finished with a 17-for-33 from the floor shooting. He also knocked down 17-of-18 free throws.
Harden, the reigning MVP, is averaging 34.8 points, 8.6 rebounds, 6.3 assists per game this season. In his last ten games during this epic barrage of points, Harden is cranking out 42.3 points per game.
Harden scored 54 points against the Washington Wizards in double overtime and dropped 50 and a triple double against LeBron and the Lakers. Last week, he dazzled fans with 44 points against the defending champs plus a game-winning trey.
FEAR THE BEARD STATS:
50-Point Games Career: 12
50-Point Games This Season: 3
40-Point Games This Season: 14
30-Point Games Current Streak: 17
In 1964, the unstoppable Wilt Chamberlin posted 20 straight games with 30 or more points. Harden is three games away from tying Wilt the Stilt.
The Rockets began a three-game homestand with the win against the Grizzlies. They host the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday. The LA Lakers come to town over the weekend, but will be without LeBron James, who injured his groin on Christmas.
The Rockets are leading the Southwest, but they are only the fourth-best team in the Western Conference. The breakout Denver Nuggets are the top team and the defending champion Golden State Warriors are right on their tails. Oklahoma City is currently third in the west and ahead of the Rockets.
According to the South Point Casino and Sports Book in Las Vegas, the Houston Rockets are 10-1 odds to win the NBA championship.