James Harden faced 11 Celtics defenders in Thursday night matchup
Thanks to an outstanding effort from James Harden, the Houston Rockets managed to walk away from Thursday night’s matchup against the Boston Celtics with their eighth win in nine games.
Harden led all scorers in the 127-113 victory, racking up a whopping 45 points on 11-of-26 shooting from the field (9-of-18 from beyond the arc), six assists, two rebounds and one block.
Though they tried several different strategies, the Celtics could not find a way to slow Harden down. In fact, Boston guarded Harden with 11 different players, but most of them struggled to quell his hot streak.
— A. Sherrod Blakely (@ASherrodblakely) December 28, 2018
Following Thursday’s game, Harden was asked about this year’s MVP race.
“Of course, I should be in that conversation,” Harden, the reigning MVP, told ESPN. “I received a lot of hate, but it won’t stop me from going out there and killing it every single night and being the dog that I am. You can name a few other people that can be in that conversation, but realistically, it’s coming back.”
Harden, now 29 years of age, has been working hard in the gym to keep his body in peak physical condition.
“He comes in and does extra work,” Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni said. “He knew he had to take his body to one more level up. He had to get into a better rhythm.
“He’s been playing a lot of one-on-one,” D’Antoni added. “He’s been getting a lot of extra work in the weight room. He’s been putting his time in, and it’s obviously paying dividends.”
In his 31 appearances with the Rockets this season, Harden has racked up averages of 32.7 points on 44.4 percent shooting from the field (38.2 percent from beyond the arc), 8.3 assists, 5.5 rebounds and 2.1 steals in 36.7 minutes per outing.
Harden and the Rockets will be back in action on Saturday night, as they’re scheduled for a matchup with the New Orleans Pelicans. Tip-off inside the Smoothie King Center is set for 7:00 p.m. ET with NBA TV having live broadcast coverage.
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