James Harden has been on fire as of late. In his last game, he finished with 38 points and seven assists. He played well but the Rockets lost to against the Portland Trail Blazers 110-101, which snapped their six-game winning streak.
As strange as it sounds, this was an average game from Harden. At least, in comparison to his recent games. In Saturday's game against the Blazers, he had nine points in the first half.
It was the second time this season he scored less than 10 points in the first half. He was also 0 of 8 from three-point range that half. He had a better second half where he scored 29 points and shot 5 of 9 from three-point range in the second half.
He made some three-pointers but he still struggled from three-point range overall.
Prior to this game, Harden scored 40-plus points in his last five games, which also includes consecutive triple-doubles. On Monday, he had 43 points and added 13 assists and 10 rebounds.
On Thursday, Harden helped the Rockets beat the Golden State Warriors. The win came in overtime and Harden made the game-winning three-pointer to beat the reigning NBA champions 135-134. He finished the game with 44 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds.
Ironically, this game came after ESPN's First Take discussed the Most Valuable Player award for the 2018-19 season.
On First Take, former NBA player Richard Jefferson said Harden isn't even close to being the MVP, as he put Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kawhi Leonard over the reigning MVP.
Antetokounmpo and Leonard are playing well this season and their teams are fighting for the East. The Raptors are first in the East with a record of 30-12, while the Bucks are following closely with a 27-11 record.
The Raptors beat the Bucks 123-116 on Saturday. Antetokounmpo had 43 points and 18 rebounds and Leonard scored 30 points. Jefferson gave the two forwards an advantage over Harden due to their teams' records.
Giannis averages 26.5 points and 12.6 rebounds, while Leonard, in his first year with Toronto, is averaging 27.2 points and 7.9 rebounds.
They are playing well and should receive MVP considerations but Harden is playing on another level. He's averaging 33.7 points, 8.5 assists and 5.9 rebounds and has had some crazy stat lines, including a 50-point triple-double.
He had 50 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds against the L.A. Lakers last month. The Beard is playing well (offensively) this season and he's helped the Rockets improve after a bad start.
While the Bucks and Raptors are on top of their conference, the Rockets are fighting in the west.
Houston were towards the bottom of the Western Conference after a sluggish first couple of weeks of the season, but a win streak, led by Harden, helped them improve.
Now, the Rockets are fifth in their conference, such a resurgence is tough to do in the West and Harden's ability is the main reason behind it.
Is Harden the MVP? He is as of now. He is the reigning MVP after winning last year and is on the verge of another. If the Rockets continue to improve, it will help his chances.
In the last 13 games, The Beard is averaging 39.9 points, 8.8 assists, 6.5 rebounds and the Rockets' record is 11-2 during that stretch.Published 07 Jan 2019, 09:03 IST