James Harden came just two points shy of extending his streak of scoring at least 40 points per game during the Rockets’ 110-101 loss to the Trail Blazers on Saturday (Sunday, Manila time).
The Rockets guard was on a historic run, scoring 40 points or more in five consecutive games, but the Blazers held him to 38 points on 13-of-35 shooting. He also was an impressive 7-of-7 from the free throw line.
Harden attributed his streak coming to an end as a result of flat shooting and a slow start, while coach Mike D’Antoni suggested Harden could have some lingering emotions hanging on him from Thursday after their overtime win against the Warriors.
“My shots were flat in the beginning of the game,” Harden said (via ESPN). “So I just had to adjust a little bit, get them up. That was another thing, for myself I’ve got to get off to a better start. I picked it up in the third quarter and the second half, but that first half I had the same opportunities I normally get but my shot was just a little flat.”
The Rockets went 5-0 during Harden’s 40-point streak and had moved up from 14th in the Western Conference to fourth after winning 11 of their past 12 games. He joined elite company like Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan and Allen Iverson as the only players to have a run like that in the past 50 years, ESPN noted.
“It’s unbelievable now, you grade him on a sharp curve where if he gets 38, now if he doesn’t get 40 it’s like, ‘well, what’s wrong with you?'” D’Antoni said. “He’s gone up another level and he’ll stay up there. And that’s why when people say, ‘he can’t continue on this tear,’ yeah he can, because he’s doing it with ease, as long as he stays healthy.”
While Harden acknowledged his historic run was impressive, he was ready to shift his focus back to winning as he looks ahead to Houston’s game against Denver on Monday.
“Honestly that streak is pretty cool for stats and whatnot, but honestly the win is more important,” Harden said. “So, came up short [against the Blazers] and now we’ve got another opportunity to go home and play Denver, who’s playing exceptionally well. So we’ve got to regroup.”