Luke Walton Jokes Lakers' Goal Is to Keep Rockets' James Harden Under 50 Points

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJanuary 19, 2019

Houston Rockets guard James Harden walks on the court during a timeout during the second half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Friday, Jan. 11, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
Eric Christian Smith/Associated Press

Ahead of Saturday's road game against the Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton discussed wanting to end James Harden's 50-point streak.

According to ESPN.com's Dave McMenamin, Walton joked that holding Harden under 50 will be the Lakers' key to victory: "If we can keep him anything under 50, we feel like we've succeeded as a group. If he scores over 50, then the game plan did not work."

Harden has topped the 50-point plateau in each of Houston's past two games, with 57 against the Memphis Grizzlies and 58 against the Brooklyn Nets.

The reigning NBA MVP has scored 30 or more in 18 straight games, which includes a 50-point, 11-assist, 10-rebound triple-double against the Lakers on Dec. 13.

While Walton knows the Lakers likely won't shut Harden down completely, he stressed the importance of weathering the storm: "He's going to get fouls, he's going to get 3-point shots, he's going to score. He's on an unbelievable tear right now. We just got to keep fighting and playing through all of it."

Harden is in the mix for his second consecutive NBA MVP award; he's averaging an NBA-best 35.4 points per game to go along with 8.5 assists and 6.3 rebounds.

The Lakers will have their work cut out for them Saturday, as LeBron James is set to miss his 13th straight game with a groin injury.

L.A. is 5-7 during James' absence, and it currently holds the final playoff spot in the Western Conference at 25-21 with a half-game lead over the Los Angeles Clippers.

Meanwhile, the Rockets are sixth in the West at 25-19, bouncing back from an 11-14 start to the season.   

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