HOUSTON — Reigning MVP James Harden continued his historic run to carry the increasingly short-handed Houston Rockets with a 57-point performance in Monday night’s 112-94 win over the Memphis Grizzlies.
Harden kicked things off by setting a team record with 36 first-half points to help Houston take a 54-48 lead.
It also was Harden’s 17th consecutive game with at least 30 points, 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.
“There’s no pressure,” Harden said during his postgame interview on the Rockets’ broadcast. “I do this for a living. I have fun with it.”
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 are 13-4 during Harden’s streak despite guards Chris Paul and Eric Gordon missing extended stretches due to injury. Clint Capela became the third Rockets starter to be sidelined when he was diagnosed Monday with a thumb injury that sources say will cause him to miss four to six weeks.
Harden hit the 50-point milestone for the third time this season and 12th time in his career. The only players in NBA history who have more 50-point games are Chamberlain, Michael Jordan, Bryant, Elgin Baylor and Rick Barry. LeBron James also has 12 50-point performances.
Entering Monday’s game, Harden already had a 30-point triple-double and a 40-point triple-double against the Grizzlies this season.
But it’s a trend with which the Rockets are familiar. Harden, playing without Capela and Paul on the court this season, has averaged 44.5 points, 6.4 rebounds and 7.3 assists per 36 minutes. Harden also has shot 50 percent from the field and 49 percent from 3-point range in that time.
The record scoring production for any half in Rockets history is 37, set by Vernon Maxwell against Cleveland in January 1991. Maxwell had 30 points in the fourth quarter of that game.
Information from ESPN’s Stats & Information was used in this report.