For the past two-plus months, James Harden could be counted on to score 30 or more points in a game. After 32 consecutive games of scoring 30 or more points, though, that run came to an end in the Houston Rockets’ 119-111 home win against the Atlanta Hawks last night.
Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain has the all-time mark for consecutive 30-point games at 65. For his part, Harden seemed relieved to have the streak done, saying after last night’s game: “It was cool but I knew I wasn’t going to get to No. 1.”
Harden last came up short of 30 points in a Dec. 11 win over Portland, when he had 29. During the streak, he scored 50 or more points four times, including a career-high 61 in a win at the Knicks on Jan. 23. And, already this season, he has joined Chamberlain, Michael Jordan and Rick Barry as the only players with 20 games of at least 40 points in the first 50 of a season.
As we bid adieu to Harden’s historic run, let’s take a look back at some of his best performances from the 32-game streak …
Dec. 13, 2018: Getting it all started …
Every streak has to start somewhere and, sorry Lakers fans, but you were the first victim. Harden not only scored 50 points, but also added 10 rebounds, 11 assists and two steals for his second triple-double of the season. For good measure, Harden scored 11 points in the final five minutes to help seal a 126-111 win.
Dec. 17, 2018: The ‘double step-back’ game
In a big win against a fellow playoff contender, Harden came up with a huge 47 points in a win against the Utah Jazz. However, this one might best be remembered for the shot Harden didn’t make that had many fans up in arms. His attempted step-back (step-back) wing jumper with with 54.6 seconds left over Ricky Rubio had the NBA Twitterverse up in arms. (The NBA later admitted it missed calling a travel on the move.)
Dec. 25, 2018: Harden shines bright vs. OKC
There’s always an air of drama surrounding any Rockets-Thunder matchup from any number of storylines: the Harden vs. Russell Westbrook showdown, their past playoff matchups and their respective places in the Western Conference pecking order this season. Harden scored 41 on this night, marking his seventh straight game of 30 or more in the run. That was the most in the NBA since Westbrook had eight 30-point games back in November of 2016.
Jan. 3, 2019: Warriors stung at buzzer
The Thunder, Celtics, Pelicans and Grizzlies all suffered losses fueled by 40-point efforts from Harden from Christmas Day to New Year’s Eve. As the calendar turned to 2019, Harden saved a strong dose of scoring venom for the rival Golden State Warriors. He not only dropped 44 points on them — his fifth straight game with 40 or more — but nailed an improbable game-winning 3-pointer with 2.7 seconds left in OT to drop Golden State.
Jan. 11, 2019: A historic triple-double
Given the workload and number of shot attempts Harden garnered during the streak, efficient scoring stats were a rare sight for him during the run. One of those nights came in early January, though. He had 43 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists in just 29 minutes vs. Cleveland, becoming the first player in NBA history to have a 40-point triple-double in less than 30 minutes of play.
Jan. 14, 2019: Passing Kobe, scoring 50
After an uncharacteristically bad shooting game a night earlier in a loss to the Orlando Magic, Harden had 57 points on 17-for-33 shooting (and 6-for-15 from deep) to power a blowout victory. This game marked the 17th straight game in which Harden notched 30 or more points, moving him past Kobe Bryant on the list. His 17 straight games was the NBA’s longest run since Chamberlain had 20 such games in 1964 (a mark he would pass four games later).
Jan. 15, 2019: A 50-point effort in defeat
What do you do when you’ve scored a season high a night earlier? If you’re Harden, you go top it. He had 58 points and 10 rebounds as the Rockets shot an NBA-record 70 3-pointers against Brooklyn. However, it was Spencer Dinwiddie who stole the show on Harden’s night, scoring 25 fourth-quarter points to spark the Nets to a 145-142 overtime victory.
Jan. 23, 2019: Harden’s MSG moment
Madison Square Garden has been home to many great NBA moments and, on this date, several more took place. Harden scored a career-best 61 points, hitting the 30-point mark with three minutes to go in the first half. In this game, he became the first player with 60 points and 15 rebounds since 2000 (Shaquille O’Neal), the first player to attempt 20 3-pointers and 20 free throws and the first player with three 55-point games in a month since 1963 (Chamberlain). Oh, and he also moved into fourth place on the 30-point game scoring streak.
Jan. 25, 2019: Kawhi vs. Harden showdown
The Raptors and Rockets waged a classic that featured two Kia MVP types in Harden and Toronto’s Kawhi Leonard. Fittingly, the game came down to a late 3-point attempt by Leonard, who was (of course) guarded by Harden. Leonard missed the shot and Harden notched his 22nd straight game with 30 or more points. In addition, he led his team and Houston’s opponent in scoring for the 22nd straight game. That moved Harden past Jordan for the second-longest streak in NBA history behind Chamberlain, who did it in 40 in a row.
Feb. 2, 2019: Harden keeps climbing
The Jazz were victimized by Harden earlier in the streak — see the “double step-back” game above — and fell prey to him again in February. Harden not only had 43 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and six steals, but came within a block of his first career five-by-five game. In racking up this 30-plus point game, he took ownership of the third-longest such streak in NBA history (trailing only Chamberlain, of course).
Feb. 11, 2019: Keeping the streak alive …
Some nights for Harden, getting to 30 points looked as easy as a step-back 3-pointer. Other nights, that wasn’t quite the case. Such was the scenario against Dallas with under a minute to go. Stuck at 28 points and with a win well in tow, Chris Paul found a way to get Harden a decent look at a 3-pointer from the left wing. He nailed it with 52.8 seconds to go, running his streak to 30 straight games, putting him on the cusp of the second-longest mark ever.
Feb. 21, 2019: History for Harden
No one can take the second-longest 30-point scoring run away from Harden. That was assured on this date when he notched 30 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists against the Lakers. However, it was unlikely to be a truly memorable night for Harden. Why? He fouled out with 1:24 remaining and his Rockets blew a 19-point lead to LeBron James and Co. in stunning fashion. Still, no matter how this game is viewed, it will forever be a standout moment in Harden’s career.
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Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.