James Harden sets Rockets record with 36 first-half points

Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni worried Monday that James Harden was “dog tired” and would have to carry an even heavier burden with the news that a thumb injury would sideline center Clint Capela for four to six weeks and leave Houston without three starters.

Harden’s horrible 3-point shooting in Sunday’s road loss to the Orlando Magic hinted that fatigue might be a factor for the reigning league MVP. However, Harden responded by scoring a season-high 57 points Monday night, continuing his historic run by carrying the Rockets to a 112-94 home win over the Memphis Grizzlies.cheap nfl jerseys nike china

“What he just did, we kind of take it for granted a little bit,” said D’Antoni, who recorded the 600th win of his NBA coaching career. “It’s like, ‘Oh, look at that, isn’t that cute? It’s 57!’ I mean, on dead legs and he played 43 minutes last night. It’s beyond impressive. It’s rare that people can do what he’s done, if anybody.”12

Harden indeed entered rare air with his 17th consecutive game scoring at least 30 points. It’s the longest such streak since Wilt Chamberlain had 20 straight 30-plus-point performances in 1964. The only other players with streaks of 16 straight 30-point games since Chamberlain were Kobe Bryant in 2003 and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1972.

Harden, who has led the Rockets to a 13-4 record during this run, shrugged at being part of such exclusive company.

“The win was important,” Harden said. “I’ve got to get some rest tomorrow and be ready to go Wednesday. Same thing.”

Harden extended his streak with time to spare before halftime. He scored a team-record 36 points in the first half, one shy of Vernon Maxwell’s franchise record for points in either half.cheap nfl nike jerseys free shipping

Harden, who finished three points shy of his franchise record, was 17-of-33 from the floor, including 6-of-15 from 3-point range, and 17-of-18 from the free throw line before receiving a standing ovation when he exited the game with 3:35 remaining.

The Rockets had lost three of their previous five games entering Monday, and MRI results revealed ligament damage in Capela’s right thumb that sources say will need to be surgically repaired. With guards Eric Gordon (knee contusion) and Chris Paul (hamstring strain) still out, the Rockets’ spirits easily could have sagged.

Harden didn’t let that happen, scoring two-thirds of Houston’s points in the first half while D’Antoni tinkered with the rotation, quickly opting to play small lineups when 36-year-old fill-in starting center Nene Hilario rested.