To continue the review of the best performances of the 2018-2019 NBA season, we have three from James Harden. They were just all such insane performances that I had to include all three and give Harden his own post. I will always be shocked at the ridiculous assist totals Harden can reach while casually dropping 50. So here are Harden’s 3 best games at the midway point of the season and stick around because they’re in chronological order and the last one is my favorite.*cough Golden State cough* Be sure to go back and re-live the unreal scoring breakouts for Derrick Rose, Kemba Walker, and LaMarcus Aldridge here.
James Harden- Nov. 26th @ Washington Wizards- 54 Points, 13 Assists
The Rockets took a trip to Washington D.C. to visit the struggling 8-12 Wizards. The Rockets, under .500 at 9-10, need a win bad and Chris Paul was out. James Harden came out rocking the headband and Headband Harden put on a show.
54 points, 13 assists, and 8 rebounds on 53% (17-32) from the field 46% (7-15) from three and knocked down a few(for him) free throws (13-15). Harden also had two different 4-point plays throughout the game.
Harden had 23 points in the first half, with only two made 3s. He came out in the second half and exploded for 21 points and three triples, in just the third quarter. Harden was playing the pick and roll, attacking the basket and laying out absolute dimes to Clint Capela. Harden was also able to find Eric Gordon early and often as Gordon went on to score 36 himself. The 3rd quarter was when Harden really got cooking, a pair of back to back step-back threes.
The Rockets would lose and Harden’s game did have some drawbacks. He only had a combined 10 points in the 4th quarter and overtime, not exactly his normal production level. Now you look at the stat line of 54/13/8 and think he almost had a 50-point triple double right? Wrong. Harden had 11 turnovers, giving him the kind of triple-double nobody wants. Can’t put too much blame on Harden though, if you have the ball in your hands enough to drop 54 while getting 13 assists, there probably wasn’t a whole lot of playmaking being done by anyone besides him.
Headband Harden a good look? Let me know what you think in the comments.
James Harden- Dec 13th vs. Los Angeles Lakers- 50 Points, 11 Assists, 10 Rebounds
Rockets, still under .500 at this point, hosted the LA Lakers and Harden put on a show. This is the game where LeBron and the rest of the Lakers decided they had to put their arms behind their backs so they would stop fouling Harden. Regardless at this point, Lakers were towards the top of the Western Conference and the Rockets were firmly planted at the bottom.
Harden went off for the 50 points, 11 assists, and 10 rebound triple-double on 53% shooting (14-26) and hit 18 out of his 19 free throw attempts. This was a big win for the Rockets and it didn't exactly follow there "live by the 3, die by the 3" motto. Harden only hit 4 threes the whole game (4-12), but 3 of them were from over 30 feet. Those are logo shots, just to be clear the NBA 3-point line is at 25 feet and the free throw line at 15 feet. You’ll see them in the highlights, but the shot chart helps.
Harden’s ball handling was on full display, as you can see in the highlights. Harden was weaving in and out of Laker defenders, literally dribbling circles around them. Harden could step-back or hop step any direction and hit a jumper, euro-step right down the lane, or give you a bump on his way to the hoop to get those free throws. Harden was in his bag, he even posterized JaVale McGee, who’s having a solid season as a rim protector this year.
James Harden- Jan. 3rd @ Golden State- 44 Points, 15 Assists, 10 Rebounds
The Rockets, now finally over .500, came into this game hot. No Chris Paul, but they were on a 5 game win streak. Harden got his 44 point, 15 assist, and 10 rebound triple-double with only shooting 9 free throws (he made 8). He shot 40% (13-32) from the field and 40% (10-23) from 3-point range. He only made three 2-point shots, and still scored 44…unreal.
The Rockets were down 22 at one point, the Warriors under Steve Kerr were 156-1 when leading by 20 or more points…until James Harden came to town. I said this was my favorite and I can’t tell exactly why. Part of it is Harden vs. 4 all-stars, part of it is the 22 point come back in Oracle Arena, but mostly this game-winner from James Harden. The way he gets up and yells at Draymond Green, I’m no lip reader, but it looks like Harden let Draymond know whose daddy around Oracle Arena now-a-days. Harden's stare down at Draymond is at the end of the video.
The highlights really speak for themselves, but step-back Harden was in full effect. This is the game right before Steph held up the “13” after getting called for a travel on a step-back three. Maybe it wasn’t a travel, maybe Harden travels every time too, who knows. But what I do know is that James Harden has some prime real estate in the heads of the Golden State Warriors and if they can’t figure this one-man (well one man and Capela to get his rebounds) show, they could be in some serious trouble come playoff time.
Also, Kevin Durant took seven of the last eight shots for Golden State and missed all but one of them…. tough look.