James Harden’s MVP resume got another boost Tuesday night when the Houston Rockets combo-guard extraordinaire tallied 40 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists in his team’s 121-114 win over the Charlotte Hornets at the Toyota Center.
Harden has now posted triple-doubles in consecutive games, and he joined Russell Westbrook, Pete Maravich and Michael Jordan as the only players to record back-to-back triple-doubles with 40 points in each contest, according to Elias Sports (via the NBA on ESPN).
#PointHarden keeps on keepin’ on!
And a W. pic.twitter.com/q4TWkQ5mNG
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 11, 2017
On a more macro level, the 27-year-old has 11 triple-doubles in 40 games this season, and the Rockets improved to 31-9—tied for second in the Western Conference with the San Antonio Spurs—by virtue of Tuesday’s win.
All told, Houston was won nine straight dating back Dec. 26.
“As long as I play the right way and be unselfish and we win games, all that is going to come,” Harden said after the game, per the Associated Press’ Kristie Rieken. “I don’t think about it too much. If it happens, it happens, and the most important thing is winning, and it’s been a total turnaround from last year to this year … so (win) and great things will come.”
Harden has reached sensational new heights during the fruitful run.
Over the last nine games, Harden is averaging 32.4 points, 11.4 assists and 9.9 rebounds while shooting 46.1 percent from the field and 37.2 percent from three-point range.
“He’s unbelievable,” Hornets forward Marvin Williams said, according to the Houston Chronicle‘s Jonathan Feigen. “There’s not enough words in the English dictionary that can describe what he’s doing.”
James Harden’s shot chart during Houston’s 9-game winning streak
If Harden can continue breaking new statistical ground, the Rockets could emerge as legitimate threats to the Golden State Warriors’ Western Conference supremacy.
Houston has done a complete 180 since Mike D’Antoni took over as head coach in the offseason. D’Antoni’s decision to install Harden as the Rockets’ primary ball-handler has accentuated the Beard’s best attributes.
To that point, the Rockets rank third in offensive rating (112.7) and fourth in net rating (plus-7.2) a year after they finished eighth and 15th in those same two categories, respectively.
Looking ahead, Harden will be tasked with keeping the Rockets’ winning streak alive Wednesday night when they square off against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center.
That showdown will mark the start of a stretch that sees Houston play three of four on the road, but if the Rockets can escape that run without a loss, the spotlight will be shining intensely on the Toyota Center when the Warriors come to town on Friday, Jan. 20.
Considering the Rockets have already recorded one win against the Dubs this season, another victory could further validate Houston’s place among the West’s elite at the season’s midway point.
Stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com and NBA.com unless noted otherwise.