James Harden, probably the most polarizing player in the NBA, made history last night against the Orlando Magic with the first ever 60-point triple-double in league history.
Harden had 60 points, 10 rebounds, and 11 assists in 46 minutes on 19-30 shooting from the floor. It’s this kind of display that has Harden vying at the top of the NBA MVP race.
A montage of Harden’s field goals last night reveals pretty much every point comes either in the paint or behind the 3-point line. But, unlike Klay Thompson, Stephen Curry, Devin Booker, or any of the NBA’s most prolific scorers, Harden didn’t even go wild from 3, making only 5 3’s the entire game.
This wasn’t a blowout either. The Magic were hanging with the Rockets as Houston was dealing with the absence of Chris Paul and lost Eric Gordon in the second quarter. After Gordon’s injury, Harden didn’t get substituted for THE REST OF THE GAME.
That might be the wildest part of the night. Harden played all but two minutes of the game, despite the fact that most of his action came in the paint, taking bumps and abuse from bigger dudes.
Although his 60th point came on a ridiculous 4-point play.
Harden told reporters after the game that as soon as Gordon was ruled out, he knew he had to take it into overdrive.
“I looked at Coach and said, ‘Eric can’t go.’ He said go get ’em. And after that, I didn’t come out of the game.”
And The Beard was full of praise for his entire team,
“I just gave it all I had tonight. We all did. We all fought for 48 minutes, we got key stops when we needed to and we made big shots.”
While Harden detractors (of which there are apparently many, NBA fans are some weirdos) will complain about the amount of free throws Harden shoots or that his game is “boring,” those takes are very bad and dumb.
Harden is a singular talent in the NBA. His game is pretty fucking bizarre to be honest, it’s like he was created in some kind of basketball efficiency lab. The Rockets, led by GM (and MIT grad) Daryl Morey and head coach Mike D’Antoni, predicate their style on efficient scoring, taking only the highest-percentage shots, either around the basket or behind the 3-point arc.
This means eliminating the mid-range jumper, the least efficient shot in basketball. Harden takes virtually none of these. He is the perfect player for this system.
He wins on his own.
He makes teammates better.
He has the metrics.
He has big-game performances and wins vs. great teams.
He has checked every box.
He’s still gotta keep it up for two more months.
— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) January 31, 2018
James Harden now has more than a legitimate claim to the league’s MVP this season. He leads the NBA in points per game, total points, 3-point field goals, free throws, player efficiency rating (PER), win shares per 48 minutes, total win shares, and plus/minus.
Statistics and advanced metrics aren’t everything, but the Rockets stand second in the Western Conference, trailing right behind the Warriors, and are virtually the only team that could put up a strong challenge to the Dubs in the playoffs.
I’ve been #HardenHive for a minute now. He has probably the most unorthodox game in the league, but dude just gets buckets. With Harden balling at this level, the Rockets are a truly fascinating prospect going forward.
His fellow players were impressed.
Okay @JHarden13 you’re not playing fair!!!
— DWade (@DwyaneWade) January 31, 2018
James Harden really survived a trade, a curse from @LILBTHEBASEDGOD, a relationship with a Kardashian and is out here dropping 60 point triple doubles. Bruh.
— Black Adam Howes (@Howsito) January 31, 2018
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) January 31, 2018
Gotta give James harden mvp this year. Point blank period. #cookin
— Bobby BP Portis (@BPortistime) January 31, 2018
Give The Beard the MVP.