Mike D'Antoni Calls James Harden's Critics 'Absurd' amid Historic Scoring Streak

Megan ArmstrongContributor IFebruary 22, 2019

Houston Rockets guard James Harden waves to the crowd after he was called for a technical foul during the second half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Sacramento Kings, Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019, in Sacramento, Calif. The Rockets won 127-101. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

Houston Rockets guard James Harden went into the All-Star break on fire with 31 consecutive 30-point games, yet some have continued to criticize him for his play.

Prior to the Rockets' game against the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night, Houston head coach Mike D'Antoni defended Harden in comments made to ESPN's Tim MacMahon. D'Antoni said, in part: 

"First of all, I don't listen to it because it's absurd. He's doing what we need to do to try to get a good seeding. ... I mean, I could go on for days. It doesn't make any sense. We're the second-best offensive team in the league. His efficiency is off the charts. He's playing better this year than he did last year when he was the MVP."

D'Antoni also pointed out Harden was the sole reason the Rockets kept pace in December and January while injuries shuffled Chris Paul, Clint Capela and Eric Gordon in and out of the lineup. On top of his current 30-point game streak, Harden scored 304 consecutive unassisted points in January.

The reigning MVP has received criticism from his peers.

One has been five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant. In an interview earlier this month with ESPN's Rachel Nichols, Bryant stated he didn't believe the Rockets' style of play can "ever win championships" while also recognizing Harden as "absolutely remarkable."

There have been more subtle criticisms, too, such as when Golden State Warriors All-Star Stephen Curry seemingly gestured to a referee that if No. 13—Harden's number—were on his chest, he wouldn't have been called for traveling on a step-back three. 

The Rockets enter their Feb. 21 game at 33-24 and fifth place in the Western Conference.

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