James Harden won the NBA's Most Valuable Player Award last season for his spectacular performance in leading the Houston Rockets to the best regular season record. He averaged a near triple-double every night, finishing the year with 30.4 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 8.8 assists per game while shooting 44.9 percent from the field.
This season, the Rockets have underperformed but James Harden has ignited the team's recent surge, especially after losing Chris Paul to another hamstring injury.
On Christmas Day, Harden scored 41 points in a win against the Oklahoma City Thunder. That scoring total puts him behind only Kevin Durant's performance on Christmas Day of 2010.
James Harden joined an elite group this Christmas 🔥 pic.twitter.com/57Q309Nrj7
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) December 25, 2018
Harden told The Associated Press, USA Today, that the Rockets are on a new path to greatness:
“We’ve had that confidence all year. Our record isn’t where we want it to be, but it’s getting there. And we’ve got to continue to work hard every day, continue to get better and grow. We’re preparing for a postseason. We’re not going to be at our tip top right now.”
The Rockets are now 18-15 on the season as they own the eighth seed in the Western Conference. On average, they score 109.2 points per game, which ranks 19th in the entire NBA. Surprisingly, their defense hasn't been as bad as advertised despite losing Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah A' Moute in the offseason, only allowing 108.5 points per game which ranks 11th in the NBA.
The Rockets will play the Boston Celtics next at home this upcoming Thursday.