Houston’s scoring machine

By Henry Liao February 11,2019
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Houston’s scoring machine

By Henry Liao February 11,2019
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HOUSTON Rockets scoring machine James Edward Harden Jr. struggled in the early goings of the 2018-19 U.S. National Basketball Association wars so much so the Doubting Thomases cast aspersions on his capability to capture the Most Valuable Player award for a second straight season, especially with the strong performance of the “Greek Freak” Giannis Antetokounmpo and his Milwaukee Bucks.

The month of January proved to one and all that the demise of Harden as a repeat MVP contender was grossly exaggerated.

The 6-foot-5, 29-year-old backcourter averaged 43.6 points in 14 games (8-6) in January – the highest scoring average in a month since Wilt Chamberlain normed 45.8 ppg in 11 games (5-6) with the San Francisco Warriors in March 1963.

Note that 28.4 percent of Harden’s January average came from the free-throw line.

In January, Harden likewise became the fourth player in NBA annals with 600 points, 100 rebounds and 100 assists in a calendar month, joining Jerry West, who turned in the trick in 17 games with the Los Angeles Lakers in December 1965; Oscar (The Big O) Robertson, who did it in 20 games with the Cincinnati Royals (the predecessors of the Sacramento Kings) in February 1962; and Elgin Baylor, who achieved the feat in 20 games with the LA Lakers in December 1961.

Through his first five games in February, Harden has scored at least 30 points in his last 29 games (20-9) with the Houston Rockets – just two games away from the second-longest streak of such kind held by the late Wilt Chamberlain. “Wilt the Stilt” owns the top two spots with consecutive 30-point games of 65 and 31 in 1964.

Harden collected 30 points in a 136-122 loss in Denver on February 1; 43 in a 125-98 win in Utah Feb. 2; 44 in a 118-110 victory in Phoenix February 4; 36 in a 127-101 success in Sacramento on Feb. 6; and 42 in a 117-112 home loss to Oklahoma City on Feb. 9.

The Rockets next host the interstate rival Dallas Mavericks Tuesday (Manila time).

In his 10th NBA season, “The Beard” owns five of the 50-point performances in the NBA so far this season, including a career-high and NBA season-best 61 points in the Rockets’ 114-110 win over the New York Knicks last January 23 at the Madison Square Garden.

Earlier, Harden netted consecutive 50-point games – 57 vs. Memphis in a 112-94 home win last January 14 and 58 vs. Brooklyn in a 145-142 overtime home loss last January 16 – to join Chamberlain as the only players in NBA history to post back-to-back games of 55 points or more.

It was the second time in Harden’s NBA career that he had scored at least 50 points in consecutive appearances, having earlier accomplished the feat on December 20 and December 22, 2017.

Harden is currently averaging an NBA-best and career-high 36.6 points per game – 7.6 ppg better than second-placer Anthony Davis, who owns a 29-point clip with the New Orleans Pelicans.

The Arizona State alum with the league’s best step-back three-point move is on track to shatter the all-time single-season franchise record of 31.1 ppg set by the late Moses Malone in 1981-82.

Last season, Harden captured the NBA scoring crown for the first time in his career with a 30.4-point average as Houston posted the best regular-season mark in the league for the first time ever with a franchise-best 65-17 card.

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