Harden also scored 61 on Jan. 2-3 against the New York Knicks.
The Spurs collectively shook their heads in exasperation, while your body language of this Rockets reflected amazement.
Even softball trainer Mike D’Antoni tilted his head from side to side, paused another and stroked his chin during the post game news conference since he pondered what he’d just observed.
After scoring 57 in Wednesday’s overtime loss at Memphis, Harden has scored a combined 118 points over his past two excursions, linking Jordan and Bryant to the maximum points in a two-game span over the previous 50 seasons, according to Elias Sports Bureau research.
“I don’t understand how you get much benefit,” D’Antoni explained. “Whoever was in the fitness center probably [saw] something they’ve not seen before. There is absolutely no way. This has been one of the best performances — that the size of the game, we had it — just everything. I don’t understand the amount of things he got from the past four minutes, but we’re all again down. The guy has been playing.”
San Antonio learned that firsthand from the game’s beginning.
Still, somehow the Spurs weathered an early first-half storm out of Harden to shoot a six-point guide with 4 minutes, 47 minutes left to play. Harden explained that is when his mentality was to”be competitive .”
“We’re down,” he explained.
D’Antoni, meanwhile, said he had been”looking for a place to throw up. I felt bad. You knew [that the Spurs] were going to show it around.”
Harden took finished with 3:58 remaining, nailing a step-back 3pointer out of 26 feet to initiate a streak of 13 consecutive points. Harden hit three consecutive 3s to put Houston up 103-100 with 2:50 left after which banked at a turn around jumper, before hammering a driving floater with Derrick White defending.
James Harden covers his big performance against the Spurs and explains how he had been able to find some great looks.
“We gave up a million things in the first quarter, plus so they had 19 free throws in the first half and not one in the next quarter,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “You play your heart and you also play between your ears also. We played smarter and also we played harder in the 2nd half, but you can’t do that against a good team like Houston or some other team in the NBA. We played the previous two quarters, after which at the end, James placed on an MVP-type performance. So that is that.”
Harden’s 61 points have been the most ever played against the Spurs, besting Kyrie Irving‘s 57 points against them in 2015.
In the first quarter, Harden took 7-of-10 from the field and 3-of-4 from deep to score 27 points, probably the most the Spurs have ever allowed in a quarter under Popovich. Harden actually outscored the Spurs by himself in the opening quarter as the Rockets led 36-24 led in to the second quarter.
Harden’s 27 points in the opening quarter position whilst probably the maximum from a quarter in his career, and tied to the maximum in any quarter by almost any player in 2013. D’Angelo Russell put up 27 from the fourth quarter March 1-9 against the Sacramento Kings.
Perhaps most striking, Harden manufactured from the clutch with Popovich deploying a selection of approaches, from zones and traps into dual crews.
“Some of these shots he hit now, it’s remarkable,” Rockets guard Gerald Green explained. “I’ve seen plenty of basketball in my own life, played with a great deal of men and women, along with his ability level is simply some thing I’ve never seen before. The single man who will likely shield him would be the coaches and the referee. That is it. There is no body that can prevent him. He’s just some of those kinds of players who he is in a position to get off a shot in any moment. He does not possess some weaknesses. Just person that can stop him [D’Antoni] when he chooses out him, and also the referees should they foul out him. That is it.”
Harden may be your very primary player with multiple 60-point games in a season since Bryant, that did it in the 2006-07 season as well as the 2005-06 season. Before that, Jordan had been the last to reel away two 60-point games in a season (1986-87).
Asked whether Harden’s performance solidified his position from the race to get MVP, point shield Chris Paul deadpanned:”I mean, what else are you have to accomplish? This was tough, this is mad. I continue thinking of a conversation I had with Paul Pierce after his last game once I had been with the Clippers, also talking about having an opportunity to love greatness. Sheesh, that is tough. Not just that performance, but we won. We needed it.”
Harden downplayed the need for his latest feat, which marked his third career 60-point game.
“it is to take a 3-1 [string ] lead in the normal season. We gave up one last game. This has been the opportunity to take care of home. I needed to develop some aggressiveness.”