That puts in perspective how productive Harden has been for the Rockets, who have won eight consecutive games, with Harden scoring more than 35 points in each victory during the streak.
“I think that a lot of people like to normalize greatness when you see it over and over again, but it’s not normal because there’s nobody else that can do it,” said Rockets guard Russell Westbrook, who recorded his third triple-double of the season with 28 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists. “If it was normal, everybody would do it.
“He’s put himself in position to be one of the best offensive scorers of all time because of the way that he’s able to score the ball at a high level in a variety of ways.”
Harden is averaging 39.2 points per game for the 11-3 Rockets after going 11-of-19 from the floor, 5-of-10 from 3-point range and 9-of-10 from the free throw line on Monday. He averaged 36.1 points per game last season, the most by anyone in the NBA since Michael Jordan averaged 37.1 in 1986-87.
“I don’t care about that. I just want to win games,” said Harden, who had six rebounds and five assists in the win over the Blazers. “Tonight, just shooting my shots. Last game, I took 41 shots, but we had six guys on the injured reserve list. So it’s whatever it takes to win at this point. That’s what I go out there and do every single night.”
Others marvel at how Harden, who has won the past two NBA scoring titles, maintains historic production in such efficient fashion. Last season, he became the first player in NBA history to average at least 35 points per game with a true shooting percentage (61.6) better than 60%.
James Harden insists that he is not focused on averaging 40 points a game, but more so on winning them.
So far this season, Harden’s scoring average and true shooting percentage (61.8) have both improved.
“It’s unbelievable. I’m at a loss for words,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said. “What he does, you can’t do that. I’ve never seen it.
“I know I’ve said he’s the best offensive player I’ve ever seen. Well, he is. I haven’t coached everybody, but he’s so good at what he does. You might like it, you might not like it — I don’t know how you don’t like it. I don’t think we’ve ever seen it like this.”