It finally happened. After 32 games we finally had a team hold James Harden to under 30 points, and it was…..the Atlanta Hawks? Who on earth saw that coming? With the game essentially over and Harden sitting on 28 points, there was no way the Hawks were going to be the ones to allow this streak to continue so they unleashed a defensive strategy you rarely see in today’s NBA. At some point you knew a team would have some professional pride and do whatever they could do keep Harden under 30, so the Hawks decided it was the perfect opportunity to unleash the rarely seen quadruple team on Harden as soon as he crossed half court. Part of me thinks it’s a little soft to go with this strategy, this is a game that’s supposed to be about entertainment and it would have been so much better had the Hawks just played straight up in the closing seconds and Harden actually was able to get a shot off. Maybe that’s just because I’m a Harden guy, but given the game was over why not have a moment for the fans? You heard them, it was clear they wanted Harden to have one last chance and I think we can all agree it would have been a terrible look if he shot it from half court while the whole Hawks team was guarding him.
At the same time, Harden certainly had plenty of chances to keep his streak alive. He did go 7-21 from the field and 0-10 from three in his team high 36 minutes so I doubt anyone will feel bad for him now that the streak is over. As it stands his 32 games is now the second longest 30 point streak of all time which is pretty damn cool, and the Rockets record since this streak started on 12/8 is a very respectable 23-11. That’s tied for the 3rd most wins in the entire league over that span, and remember for large portion of that run it was basically Harden being forced to so everything by himself since the Rockets were riddled with injuries. We heard Harden admit that he doesn’t exactly love to play this way, where he has to basically provide all the offense himself, and that given their situation he had to have that approach in order to help his team win. Harden haters will talk about how he plays a selfish style and only cares about himself and not winning, well last night is a good example of why that’s just not true. He could have pressed and tried to draw a foul, and chances are the refs would have given it to him because they always do. Instead, he didn’t make things about himself and settled for the win being enough.
In the grand scheme of things it’s a pretty silly record, but any time we can witness NBA history I am on the side of rooting for that to continue as long as possible. If you know your NBA history you know that when Wilt’s streak ended at 65 straight games, he then immediately started another streak in his next game and that went on for 31 straight. Could we see Harden go on a similar run? I don’t think it would surprise anyone given Harden may be the most unstoppable individual scorer in the league right now. Can he match Wilt’s 65? Certainly not, but something tells me we’re going to get another big time streak because this Rockets team absolutely needs Harden’s scoring as they find themselves in a dogfight out West in terms of seeding.
So now that it’s over, take some time and relive some of the best moments of a run almost every single one of us had never seen in our lifetimes. Love Harden or hate him, that’s still pretty cool