James Harden: Scoring Streak 'Something I Have to Do' to Give Rockets a Chance

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistFebruary 19, 2019

Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) looks on as he comes out of the game during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

While a historic 30-point streak has gotten the basketball world's attention, Houston Rockets star James Harden's only focus is on doing whatever his team needs.

"The scoring streak is obviously amazing, but it's something that I just had to do because of our situation," Harden recently told ESPN's Rachel Nichols. "We had all the injuries and guys in and out of the lineup and things like that. So I think the streak just started happening, and now it's like something to talk about.

"But it's not something that I'm really honestly focused on. That's something I have to do in order to give us a chance to win the game."

Harden has eclipsed the 30-point plateau in 31 consecutive games, a streak that dates to Dec. 13. It's the second-longest run in NBA history, putting him behind only Wilt Chamberlain (65 games).

The reigning NBA MVP is averaging a ridiculous 41.2 points per contest over the last two-plus months and is leading the league in scoring at 36.6 points per game. His usage rate (39.1) is also a league high.

Most importantly, though, Houston has gone 21-10 during that span, improving from 12-14 to the fifth-best record in the Western Conference (33-24). 

As Harden noted, the streak was born out of necessity. Nine-time All-Star point guard Chris Paul suffered a hamstring strain Dec. 20, at which point Harden's streak was five games old. Paul missed 17 contests with the injury.

Eric Gordon was also sidelined for eight games in December and January with a bruised right knee.

Harden made it clear earlier this season, per The Athletic's Kelly Iko, that he "need[s]" a second consecutive MVP award. That appeared to be a motivating factor behind his streak, but Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry revealed during the All-Star break this past week that Harden had grown tired of playing "hero ball," via ESPN's High Noon:

The streak has generated plenty of buzz, but not everybody is all-in on the hype. Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant told Nichols earlier this month (3:20 mark) that while Harden was playing at a "remarkable" level, it'd be tough for the Rockets to win a championship with that style of play. While acknowledging Bryant was "probably right," Harden told reporters he was doing what he had to do.

Harden will have an opportunity to extend his streak when the Rockets resume play Thursday against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Related

    Report: Pat Bev to Meet with Multiple Teams Before Clippers

    NBA logo
    NBA

    Report: Pat Bev to Meet with Multiple Teams Before Clippers

    Scott Polacek
    via Bleacher Report

    Rockets Are Pursuing a Third Star

    Houston Rockets logo
    Houston Rockets

    Rockets Are Pursuing a Third Star

    Space City Scoop
    via Space City Scoop

    What to Watch This Week 📺

    🏀 NBA draft on Thursday

    NBA logo
    NBA

    What to Watch This Week 📺

    🏀 NBA draft on Thursday

    Corey Knapp
    via Bleacher Report

    Police Confirm Shooting at Raptors Parade

    At least four people suffered 'serious injuries'

    NBA logo
    NBA

    Police Confirm Shooting at Raptors Parade

    At least four people suffered 'serious injuries'

    Joseph Zucker
    via Bleacher Report