Harden is averaging an NBA-best 35.4 points and has scored 30-plus in 18 consecutive games.
The Lakers are hoping to extend their two-game win streak Saturday against the Rockets, but to do that coach Luke Walton has one very important goal: keep James Harden under 50 points.
The reigning MVP has scored 57 and 58 points in his last two games at the Toyota Center.
“If we can keep him anything under 50, we feel like we’ve succeeded as a group,” Walton said jokingly, via ESPN. “If he scores over 50, then the game plan did not work.”
But all jokes aside, stopping Harden will be a key part of the LeBron James-less Lakers game plan.
Harden is averaging an NBA-best 35.4 points and has scored 30-plus in 18 consecutive contests. The Rockets have gone 13-5 during that stretch while Harden has engineered three 50-point games and eight 40-point games.
“He’s going to get fouls, he’s going to get 3-point shots, he’s going to score,” Walton said. “He’s on an unbelievable tear right now. We just got to keep fighting and playing through all of it.”
Los Angeles is looking for its first three-game winning streak of the new year.
The last time the Lakers had a three-plus game win streak was the end of November.
They will continue to play without James (groin) for the foreseeable future. The timetable for his return is unclear and according to a recent interview with James’ agent, he won’t rush to return to the team’s lineup.
The Lakers enter the contest 25-21. They have gone 5-7 without James and fellow veteran Rajon Rondo (finger) but they have won four of their last six games.