Houston Rockets: James Harden’s rarefied performance will earn him MVP

Houston Rockets guard James Harden (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets guard James Harden (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /

Houston Rockets guard James Harden tied his career-high of 61 points against the Spurs tonight. His performance has sealed his MVP fate. How? Let’s look.

This Houston Rockets‘ season has had a myriad of ups and downs but we’re at the point of the season where there’s a whole lot more ups than downs.  Just look at how this team started — it wasn’t until early December when the team climbed back over the .500 mark and they’ve managed to stay there ever since.

I didn’t get antsy but I was eyeing that panic button as it seemed that the team that was assembled wasn’t getting the job done.  I was hoping in someway the Phoenix Suns would execute an early buyout of Trevor Ariza so they could bring back into the fold.

Things weren’t working and it’s natural for someone to start tapping the well that provided the most water to drink, per se.  But no, Daryl Morey stayed the course and was confident with a few more moves on the roster, that this team would have all of the complementary pieces they would need to succeed.

And it happened — Danuel House, Kenneth Faried and to a lesser extent, Iman Shumpert fell into the Houston Rockets‘ lap and the rest has just fallen into place.

Sure, this team is far cry from the high-level of defense that they played consistently last season but this latest stretch of games over the past few weeks certainly exudes massive improvement on the defensive end.

But any way, I’d just like to pledge my allegiance to the greatness of one James Harden.  In what was to be a routine, divisional regular-season match up with the San Antonio Spurs, it turned out to be one of the greatest games I’ve ever seen by a member of the Houston Rockets — I’ve seen a lot of them, spanning three decades — let alone of all-time.

When Harden scored 27 points in the 1st quarter tonight in such a svelte manner, tying his personal best earlier this season at Madison Square Garden, I knew we were all about to watch something special of this young, regal and talented bearded-fellow.

This was one of those games where the rest of the team could not conjure up much offense and Harden had to carry this team on his shoulders.  The Houston Rockets coasted in earlier stages of the game with a lead by as much as 19 points but the feisty, Gregg Popovich-coached Spurs clawed their way back in and took the lead in the waning minutes of this contest.

But you know what? Harden wasn’t having it and he single-handedly willed this team to win by scoring the team’s last 13 of 17 points, capping off a 13-2 run that he was the sole engineer of.

From an amazing step-back three to the near-poetic floating jumper to give him 61 points on the night — with everything in between — Houston Rockets fans were treated to a performance that players of rarefied air have the luxury of emanating.

He was the glue, the innovator, the engine that kept this team keyed-in to beat a surging Spurs team that had won nine of their last 10.  The Spurs were gaining immense confidence until Harden put them in their place and proved that he was un-guardable and all they could do is watch with their jaws dropped to the floor in awe.

And speaking of rarefied air, this was Harden’s 3rd 60-point game, to which that feat ties Elgin Baylor for the 4th-most in the Association’s history.

Who are the other three players that have had more of these type of games?  Does Wilt Chamberlain, Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan ring a bell?  I certainly hope so because if you don’t know who those guys are, I suggest you do a Google search on those guys immediately and read up on them.

Better yet, I challenge you to go to your local library — municipal, school, university, whatever — and dig up periodicals on these guys.  I promise you there will be plenty and I’ll give you extra points if you don’t have have to peek at the Dewey Decimal cheat sheet as well!  Are card catalogs

More from House of Houston

still a thing these days?

Maybe so but likely not with the proliferation of data warehousing and being able to get massive amounts of information with the quick flip a finger off the glass of a four-figure priced metal box.  It kind of takes the fun out of the old card catalog thing but it sure as hell is more convenient.

But nonetheless, Harden’s 61-point, seven-rebound and three-steal performance is one for the books.  He shot 19-of-34 from the field and 9-for-13 from behind-the-arc while the rest of the team was 17-for-52 and 5-for-24 respectively.  It’s quite understandable why he had just one lone assist for the night.

I think the nuances of this game will likely be a one-off because this cannot and won’t happen when the postseason starts.  Popovich will ensure that it doesn’t if the Houston Rockets find themselves matched up with them in first-round.

But I don’t want to be too much a Debbie Downer here because we witnessed an ascension of a career tonight and because of it, the Beard will win the MVP again this season.  Seal the ballot boxes now!

Next. Rockets: Top 30 players of all-time. dark

For now, let’s just enjoy the nicety of a transcending player that’s in his prime.

I’m here for it — congrats to the Beard!