James Harden is playing the best basketball of his career and his overtime dagger three to beat the Warriors in Oracle Arena says it all.
James Harden is somehow having a better season than he did last year when he won the MVP in a landslide. He’s turned in five consecutive 40-point games. That’s a streak second only to Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan who both had streaks of nine such games. That is elite company.
Of course, Harden’s stat lines are fun to look at, but Harden’s shot to bury the Warriors on their own floor is jaw-dropping.
HARDEN WITH THE GAME WINNER! #SCtop10
What. A. Game. pic.twitter.com/9Hi2mGFXnK
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 4, 2019
Additionally, this shot came directly after a curious no call on an out of bounds led to Stephen Curry hitting the go-ahead shot. Harden and the Rockets had everyone reason to lose their focus and complain about the no-call.
But rather than lose focus, Harden locked in and knocked down the laughably difficult shot. Under normal circumstances, that’s a terrible shot. He had two defenders in his shorts and almost no room to get his shot off. Then again, Harden is playing at such a high level that almost any shot he takes is a good shot.
The reigning MVP — and this year’s early frontrunner to win again — finished the night with 44 points, 10 rebounds, and 15 assists. Harden shot a ridiculous 10-for-23 from behind the arc.
The Rockets are without Chris Paul due to a left hamstring injury. Houston is leaning heavily on Harden and that is a massive understatement. It’s impossible for Harden to sustain this level of play for the whole season. He will be out of gas by the time the playoffs roll around.
That being said, we should all enjoy this run while it lasts — even the people who ridiculously say that Harden isn’t fun to watch. We may not see someone play this well again for a long, long time.