James Harden is chasing the NBA record book, but he’s only doing it to help his team chase a championship.
The Rockets star is in the midst of a 31-game stretch in which he’s scored at least 30 points in each contest, providing extra offense as Chris Paul and Clint Capela have dealt with injuries.
“The scoring streak is obviously amazing, but it’s something that I just had to do because of our situation,” Harden told ESPN. “We had all the injuries and guys in and out of the lineup and things like that. So I think the streak just started happening, and now it’s like something to talk about.
“But it’s not something that I’m really honestly focused on. That’s something I have to do in order to give us a chance to win the game.”
Harden, who is averaging 41.5 points during his run, tied Wilt Chamberlain for the second-longest streak of 30-point games in NBA history (Chamberlain also holds the longest such streak, at 65 games).
The reigning NBA MVP acknowledged it can be hard to ignore the critics, but said he’s doing his best to just keep his head down and play his game.
“Yeah, I hear it. It’s hard not to hear it — especially nowadays,” Harden said. “You have social media. You have fans that are reading what people saying and ask me about it …
“I try my best to block [criticism] out, but it’s kind of hard, you know? Especially when it’s coming from like ex-NBA players, you know? So it makes it more difficult, but, obviously, everybody’s entitled to their own opinion.”
Harden, 29, is averaging 36.6 points, 7.7 assists and 6.7 rebounds through 54 games this season.
The Rockets (33-24) have gone 21-10 during Harden’s streak.