/Harden after 45-point night: MVP coming back

Harden after 45-point night: MVP coming back

HOUSTON — Rockets guard James Harden acknowledges there are other people who deserve to be in the conversation for this season’s NBA Most Valuable Player award.

He just doesn’t think any of them will be able to prevent him from repeating as the award’s recipient.

“I mean, yeah. Of course I should be in that conversation,” Harden said, followed by a laugh and a shake of his head after he scored 45 points in Houston’s 127-113 victory Thursday over the Boston Celtics. “I mean, I receive a lot of hate, but it won’t stop me from going out there and killing every single night, being that dog that I am.

“You can name a few other people that should be in the conversation. But realistically? It’s coming back.”

Thursday’s win — the eighth in nine games for the Rockets — was the eighth consecutive game Harden scored at least 30 points, and the third time in six games he eclipsed the 40-point mark.

During this nine-game run, Harden is averaging 39.2 points, 5.6 rebounds, 8.2 assists and 2.0 steals, and he is shooting 44.7 percent overall, 40.7 percent from 3-point range and 87.8 percent from the foul line. According to Elias sports Bureau data, the 388 points Harden has scored over his past 10 games are the most by any NBA player during a 10-game stretch since Kobe Bryant scored 396 from March 22 to April 8, 2007.

Harden now is averaging a career high in points (32.7) and effective field goal percentage (54.7) while matching his true shooting percentage (61.9) from last season’s MVP run.

“He just has a mastery of the game and a control and an ease at which he plays,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said. “It’s fun to watch. On this side, it’s fun.”

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