James Harden is so good, you guys. You, of course, know this, because anyone who watches James Harden play basketball knows this, but every now and then, the reigning league MVP does some absolutely wild stuff that reinforces that he’s as special of a talent as the NBA has right now.
Case in point: Harden willed the Houston Rockets to a much-needed win on Thursday night, taking charge as they toppled the Los Angeles Lakers on national television, 126-111. In an effort that is reminiscent of some of the best games of his career, Harden registered a 50-point triple-double, going for 50 points on 14-for-26 shooting from the field and 18-for-19 from the free throw line, 11 assists, and 10 rebounds.
Few basketball players have ever been as capable of stuffing the stat sheet as Harden, and when it comes to this particular way of accruing numbers, Harden is the best to ever do it. This was his fourth career 50-point triple-double, breaking the tie that he had with Russell Westbrook for the most in NBA history. The two of them have combined for seven in their careers, while the rest of the league has combined for six.
As we’ve seen from Harden in the past, he poured it on late in the game, scoring 31 of his 50 points in the second half. Still, he had it going early, putting up 19 points at the half.
He managed to do some seriously on-brand work in the second half, drawing fouls and scoring 11 of his 31 points over the game’s final two quarters from the free throw line. But of course, Harden has built a reputation for being among the league’s best ludicrous shot makers, which occurred in the fourth quarter when he drilled a long stepback three in LeBron James’ eye.
As a floor general, Harden especially had things cooking with Clint Capela, who he fed on multiple occasions for easy dunks.
After the game, Harden told Kristen Ledlow of TNT that he believes Houston, which struggled mightily to start the year, is beginning to round into form.
“We in a hole right now, you look at these standings and we in the 14th spot, it’s kinda depressing,” Harden said. “We gotta figure it out, we continue to fight our way through it. Early we had injuries, a lot of new players, so we’re just trying to figure it out. But these last few games, we’re playing pretty well.”
This marked Houston’s second win in a row, and right now, the hope in Houston is that the team can catch fire and make a major move up the Western Conference. Time will tell if that ends up happening, but if it does, it will definitely be because the MVP is playing like one of the best basketball players in the world.