James Harden didn't get off to a great start against the Toronto Raptors on Friday. The Houston Rockets' superstar, who has been on a scoring streak not seen since the 1960s, was held to 13 first-half points on only 3-of-11 shooting from the field. It was the second-fewest points Harden has scored in the first half since his 30-point streak started on Dec. 13.
Harden shaped up after halftime to finish with 35 points, extending his streak of consecutive 30-point games to 22. Harden still trails Wilt Chamberlain, who has three longer streaks, including the record-setting 65-game run he put up in 1961-62 -- the season he averaged an NBA record 50.4 points per game.
Amazingly, Harden continues to do all this on his own. Friday night was the sixth consecutive game in which all of his points came without the benefit of an assist, a span of 296 points. His last assisted basket came on Jan. 13, off a pass from Clint Capela. In that run, Harden has recorded games of 57, 58, 61, and 35 points. No other player in the past 20 seasons has scored more than 53 points without the benefit of an assist. Harden has scored 296 unassisted points over his past six games -- 85 unassisted field goals. That's the most unassisted field goals in the past 10 seasons.
Harden is now averaging 36.2 points, which not only would be a career high but also would make him the sixth player in NBA history to average at least 35 in a season -- along with Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, Rick Barry, Elgin Baylor and Chamberlain, who did so in five seasons. Harden hasn't scored fewer than 35 points since Jan. 7, when he scored "only" 32 in a 12-point win over the Nuggets.
Next up for Harden is a home game against the Orlando Magic on Sunday. The Magic saw Harden on Jan. 13 and gave up 38 points to him, but Harden also missed 16-of-17 3-point attempts in an Orlando win. The Rockets are also expected to get point guard Chris Paul back after Paul has been out since Dec. 20.