Harden’s 57 points erase poor past performance, lead Rockets over Grizzlies 112-94

HOUSTON (AP) – After scoring a season-high 57 points in Houston’s win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday night, James Harden was asked how he was able to put last Sunday’s loss to Orlando, when he went one for 17 from three-point range, behind him so quickly.

“I went one for 17? That’s a lot of threes missed,” he deadpanned. “Oh wow!”

Then the reigning Most Valuable Player (MVP), who scored 38 points against the Magic despite that terrible statistic, got serious when asked if it’s easy to forget about such a night.

“Yeah, because if I make six of them it’s on,” he said. “It’s a 60-point game. So Orlando got lucky last night.”

Harden extended his streak of 30-point games to 17 by halftime, pouring in a franchise-record 36 points in the first half to send Houston on its way to a 112-94 victory. It’s the longest such streak since Wilt Chamberlain had 20 straight games of at least 30 points in 1964.

It’s the franchise-record 14th time Harden has scored 40 this season and the eighth time in his last 11 games. It’s the third time he’s topped 50 points this season and the 12th time in his career.

He surpassed his previous season best of 54 against Washington and fell just shy of the career-high and club-record 60 points he scored last January against Orlando.

Houston teammate Austin Rivers, who joined the Rockets just three weeks ago, marvelled at Harden’s ability to not let last Sunday’s struggles spill over into Monday’s performance.

“He comes off a game where he was one for 17 and everybody’s saying whatever and it just doesn’t even faze him. He just comes in tonight like he was 17 for 17,” Rivers said. “That’s just the mindset that the great ones have. I’m telling you right now, if another player went one for 17 they would have come in the next game a little … messed up. James comes in and that’s just why he is who he is and it’s impressive.”

Houston Rockets’ James Harden (13) goes up for a shot as Memphis Grizzlies’ Garrett Temple (17) and Mike Conley defend during the first half of an NBA basketball game between the two teams in Houston on Monday night. – AP