Houston Rockets guard James Harden put on a show on Friday night against the Los Angeles Clippers, scoring 37 points while adding 12 assists and eight rebounds in over 42 minutes of action.
Harden was also extremely efficient, shooting 9-of-16 from the field (including 5-of-11 from beyond the arc) while getting to the foul line nine times.
He will have to be efficient, because–in his own words–he is seeing more double-teams than any player in NBA history:
Rockets’ James Harden on the attention he’s seeing: “The whole season they’re running doubles teams at me. I’ve never seen that in an NBA game where you’ve got really good defenders & someone else running at the top of the key. Y’all let me know the last time you’ve seen that.” pic.twitter.com/eVxRUgds76
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) November 23, 2019
One play against the Clippers probably personifies Harden's statement the most.
With the Rockets leading the Clippers 110-109 with just under two minutes to go in the game, Harden took Clippers defensive whiz Patrick Beverley in isolation. He drove left before stepping back, and as he drove Paul George rushed over to help. Too late. Harden buried the three-pointer plus the foul, and he made a statement in the process.
Beverley is a guy that has been First Team All-Defense. George was a finalist for the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award last season. These are two legitimate aces on that side of the ball. And yet, they were practically powerless to stop Harden from getting his buckets.
Of course, this also speaks to how the game ended, with the Clippers coming out on top. Los Angeles rushed the ball when Harden crossed the timeline and forced his teammates to make plays. Jeff Green got a crucial block on Clint Capela, and Russell Westbrook missed a game-winning three-point attempt.
Harden continues to prove that he is one of the most unprecedented offensive weapons in the history of the game, and opposing defenses are certainly starting to respect his prowess.