PHILADELPHIA -- Houston Rockets guard James Harden reached 30 points for the 20th consecutive game Monday night against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Harden, who last failed to reach the 30-point threshold when he scored 29 points against the Portland Trail Blazers on Dec. 11, hit a pair of free throws with 6 minutes, 56 seconds left in the third quarter to get to 30 in the game. The Rockets were already trailing by more than 20 points in a game Philadelphia has had control of throughout.
He finished the third quarter with 37 points -- three short of reaching the 40-point mark for a fourth consecutive game. He already had a stretch of five-straight 40-point games earlier this season.
James Harden's run of 30-point performances now trails only NBA legend Wilt Chamberlain, who posted runs of 20, 25, 31 and 65 games at various points from 1960-62. Getty Images
Only Wilt Chamberlain has scored 30 points in this many consecutive games in NBA history, as Harden has moved into rarified air -- and, arguably, into pole position for a second straight NBA Most Valuable Player award -- with a scintillating six-week stretch that has also allowed the Rockets, once mired at the bottom of the Western Conference standings, to move into the top four.
While Harden had it going once again, practically none of his teammates did. After an abysmal 3-for-19 shooting performance as a team in the third quarter, while Harden had gone 12-for-26 from the field, and 6-for-13 from 3-point range, the rest of the Rockets were a combined 10-for-40 from the field -- including 2-for-19 from beyond the arc -- as Houston found itself in such a large hole that it seemed unlikely Harden would return at any point in the fourth. The only Rocket to make more than two field goals besides Harden through three quarters was Kenneth Faried, who signed with the team only hours before tip. Faried cleared waivers Monday after agreeing to a buyout with the Brooklyn Nets over the weekend.
Despite scoring 27 points in the first half of this game, Harden spent much of the game frustrated because of the antics of Corey Brewer, and with a couple of specific plays by Joel Embiid. Brewer -- signed a 10-day contract with the Sixers last week and started in place of Jimmy Butler, who is out with a right wrist sprain -- spent the game doing everything he could to get under Harden's skin, and often succeeded.
He attempted to draw an offensive foul in the backcourt early in the first half, though none was called, and then succeeded in doing so late in the half -- much to Harden's chagrin.
Embiid, on the other hand, hit Harden with a hard foul late in the first half -- one the officials reviewed, before determining it was a common foul -- and also rejected a Harden layup that had Harden, as well as Houston's entire bench, clamoring for a foul to be called.
At halftime, Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni stormed over to longtime referee Mike Callahan to let him know how he felt about the call, and earned himself a technical foul in the process.