Sweet, and unsweet, 16 for Harden on a wild night in Or­lando

Sun.Star Pampanga - - PERSPECTIVE! -

RLANDO, Fla. (AP) — James Harden had a game for the his­tory books.

OThat’s good and bad.

Harden scored 38 points Sun­day night in Hous­ton’s 116-109 loss in Or­lando, mark­ing the 16th con­sec­u­tive time that he’s scored at

least 30 or more points — match­ing Kobe Bryant for the league’s long­est such streak since the NBA-ABA merger in 1976-77.

But Harden also was 1 for 17 from 3-point range, ty­ing the league’s sin­gle-game record for most misses from be­yond the arc.

“They just didn’t go in,” Harden shrugged after­ward.

Da­mon Stoudamire was 5 for 21 from 3-point range for Port­land against Golden State on April 15, 2005. Un­til Sun­day, that was the only time a player had missed 16 3s in a game.

The NBA’s great­est shoot­ers have had aw­ful nights from 3point range — Den­nis Scott once went 2 for 17, Ray Allen once went 1 for 14, Stephen Curry has an 0 for 11 game on his re­sume. Harden went 0 for 11 from deep in Game 5 of last year’s Western Con­fer­ence fi­nals against Golden State, and has been 0 for 10 on three other oc­ca­sions.

Hous­ton coach Mike D’An­toni didn’t pin the loss on Harden’s shoot­ing. He blamed the Rock­ets’ de­fense, and Harden con­curred.

“The prob­lem is, you can’t rely on him be­ing su­per­hu­man ev­ery night,” D’An­toni said. “We’ve got to have some con­tri­bu­tions from other guys. I just thought they came in with a lack of fo­cus, par­tic­u­larly on the de­fen­sive end.”

Bryant scored 30 or more in 16 straight games from Jan. 29 through Feb. 28, 2003. If Harden scores at least 30 in his next game — that should be Mon­day against Mem­phis, as­sum­ing he’s in the Rock­ets’ lineup — he would top that mark. The last time an NBA player had a longer streak than that was in the 196364 sea­son, when Wilt Cham­ber­lain had 20 straight games scor­ing 30 or more.

“He’s such a good scorer,” Or­lando’s Nikola Vuce­vic said of Harden. “You have to stay ag­gres­sive but you can’t foul him. He’s go­ing to score. You’re not go­ing to stop him. He has the ball so much and they run ev­ery­thing for him.”

Even on a night where he got al­most noth­ing from deep to fall, Harden’s scor­ing av­er­age rose.

Harden is now av­er­ag­ing 34.2 points per game this sea­son, which puts him on a very ex­clu­sive pace. In the last 40 sea­sons, only Michael Jor­dan (37.1 points in 1986-87 and 35.0 points in 1987-88) and Bryant (35.4 points in 2005-06) have fin­ished with a higher av­er­age than Harden has now.

Harden was 15 for 16 from the foul line Sun­day. He also fin­ished with 12 as­sists and nine re­bounds.

“I thought we did a pretty good job on him,” said Or­lando’s Evan Fournier, who shoul­dered much of the de­fen­sive load against Harden on Sun­day night. “And then I looked at the score­board and he had 38. He’s just un­be­liev­able.”

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