You know you're in a groove when a 35-point night drops your monthly scoring average.
Such was the case for the red-hot James Harden, who is still averaging 44.4 points in January and extended his streak of games with at least 30 points to 22 as the Houston Rockets held off the Toronto Raptors 121-119.
It wasn’t the best shooting performance for the Rockets All-Star starter. He shot 2-of-13 from beyond the arc, but supplemented his scoring at the free throw line by draining all 15 attempts.
A balanced effort propelled Houston to victory. Every starter reached double figures, and the Rockets outscored the Raptors by 10 points when Harden was on the bench, an anomaly to their -31 total with Harden off the court this season.
While all-around production helped the Rockets win their first consecutive games in 2019, it was the Kia MVP frontrunner who continued his assault on the record books.
Here’s the latest on Harden’s astronomical pace:
- His 22-game stretch with at least 30 points is the fourth-longest in NBA history. With three more, he’ll have a 25-game streak and move into a tie with Wilt Chamberlain for third. (Chamberlain's other streaks stood at 31 and 65 games.)
- His game-high of 35 points marks the 22nd straight time he’s led both teams in scoring, which moves him ahead of Michael Jordan for the second-longest streak in NBA history. Chamberlain did it 40 straight times.
- Harden has now scored 298 consecutive points and made 85 consecutive field goals that have been unassisted.
Giannis takes over
The Milwaukee Bucks trailed for majority of Friday’s contest against the Charlotte Hornets and faced a double-digit deficit entering the fourth quarter.
That’s when All-Star captain Giannis Antetokounmpo had enough.
Rebounding from a massive Shaqtin’ moment in the first half (see below), Antetokounmpo was locked in during the final quarter and outscored the entire Charlotte team 14-12.
Each of those 14 points came inside the paint as the generational talent got to the rim with ease, lifting Milwaukee to its sixth straight victory.
Some Shaqtin' moments
PJ Tucker and Eric Gordon have some weird inbounds chemistry. Earlier this week, Tucker made Shaqtin’ A Fool for his bizarre refusal to touch the ball on Gordon’s inbounds pass late in the fourth. With less than two minutes to go in Friday’s game, Gordon was on the receiving end of Tucker’s pass and, well, this happened:
Gordon went on to make another inbounds error with 35.9 seconds left and the game within five points, stepping out after retrieving the inbounds pass (this time from Faried):
An idea: Maybe the Rockets should just let Harden inbounds to himself?
Meanwhile in Milwaukee, when you see Giannis Antetokounmpo on a fastbreak, you’re bound to see something special.
Just not this time.
Mitchell on the mound
Donovan Mitchell grew up with dreams of being a professional baseball player. But after suffering a broken wrist in high school while playing the sport, Mitchell turned his sole focus to basketball and his pitching days took a back seat.
As you can see, however, he definitely hasn't lost his fastball.
First time for everything
It’s never too late to add something new to your hoops resume.
Lou Williams registered the first triple-double of his career, totaling 31 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in the LA Clippers’ 106-101 triumph over the Chicago Bulls. Williams, 32, became the first player in more than two decades to log a triple-double off the bench and did it in his 904th career game.
Clippers guard Lou Williams recorded his 1st career triple-double (31 pts, 10 reb, 10 ast) against the Bulls on Friday.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 26, 2019
Williams played in 903 NBA games prior to Friday. Only Zach Randolph played in more before recording his 1st triple-double. (Source: Elias Sports Bureau) pic.twitter.com/ABNL6uaDWo
Two players got their first NBA points at the free throw line late in their respective games, and the best part was watching their respective team benches erupt.
Mitchell Creek (Brooklyn)
Jarred Vanderbilt (Denver)
That’s basketball camaraderie. Welcome to the league, gentlemen.