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by: Kris Gardner, United States Basketball Writers Association member. Credentialed media member since 1997. USBWA approved online journalist. Voter of Katrina McClain, Naismith, USBWA, and Wooden awards.
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James Harden Named Western Conference Player of the Month for January
Posted: February 1, 2019 -- 4:23 p.m. CST
Today, the NBA announced that Houston Rockets guard James Harden was named NBA Western Conference Player of the Month for January. It's the second straight month he has received the honor and the seventh time in his career, all coming as a Rocket. That is the most by any player in franchise history.
For the month, Harden averaged 43.6 points, 8.7 rebounds, 7.6 assists, 2.07 steals, and 1.21 blocks. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that marked the seventh-highest scoring average in a single month in NBA history with a minimum of 10 games played. Wilt Chamberlain holds the top six spots.
Harden totaled 610 points, 122 rebounds, and 106 assists in January. According to ESPN, he became the fourth player with at least 600 points, 100 rebounds, and 100 assists in a single month. Dating back to 1972-73, Michael Jordan (March of 1987) was the only other player to have scored 600-plus points in a single month. Harden joined Chamberlain (November of 1961) as the only players to have scored at least 600 points in a single month while playing fewer than 15 games.
According to ESPN, Harden's scoring and points off assists accounted for an average of 61.9 points in January, making him the first player to average above 60 in a single month. Harden's combined points and points off assists generated at least 50 points in an NBA record 19 straight games from December 13 through Jan. 19 per Elias.
Harden has scored 30-plus points in each of the past 24 games, which is the fourth-longest streak in NBA history. Chamberlain holds the top three streaks of 65, 31, and 25 games. Harden has also led the Rockets and their opponent in scoring in each of those 24 games, which is the second-longest streak in NBA history, according to ESPN. Chamberlain had a 40-game streak.
In addition, Harden has scored at least 35 points in each of the past 11 games. That is the fifth-longest streak in NBA history and the second-longest by a player not named Chamberlain. Kobe Bryant did so over a 13-game span during 2002-03. Harden has scored 35-plus points in 21 of the past 22 games (32 points vs. Denver on January 7).
Harden is averaging 40.2 points over the past 28 games. According to Elias, that is the third-longest stretch of averaging 40-plus points in NBA history. Only Chamberlain (515) and Elgin Baylor (33) did so over a longer span. Harden has scored 40-plus points 18 times in 47 games played this season. That is the most by a player through the first 47 games played in a season since Michael Jordan did so 23 times in 1986-87.
The Rockets opened the New Year with a win at Golden State on January 3. Harden had 44 points, 15 assists, and 10 rebounds while hitting a franchise-high tying 10 3-pointers, including the game-winning shot with 2.7 seconds left in overtime.
On January 11 versus Cleveland, Harden had 43 points, 12 assists, and 10 rebounds in 29 minutes and 34 seconds of play. Per Elias, he became the first player in NBA history to record a 40-point triple-double while playing fewer than 30 minutes in a game.
Harden scored 58 points versus Brooklyn on January 16 after having 57 points in 34 minutes of play versus Memphis on January 14. He joined Chamberlain as the only players to have scored 55-plus points in consecutive games.
At New York on January 23, Harden had a franchise-high 61 points with 15 rebounds and 5 steals. He became the first player to record at least 60 points, 15 rebounds, and 5 steals since steals became an official statistic in 1973-74. Harden also became the fifth player in NBA history to record multiple 60-point games.
Harden scored a total of 261 points over a five-game span from January 14 through January 23. According to Elias, that was the second-highest five-game total over the past 50 seasons, trailing 268 points by Bryant in March of 2007. Harden averaged 52.2 points over those five games, tying for the second-longest stretch of averaging 50-plus points in NBA history. Chamberlain did so over a span of 116 games.
For the season, Harden is averaging 36.3 points, 8.1 assists, 6.7 rebounds, and 2.09 steals. He is on pace to become the first player to have averaged at least 35.0 points per game and 8.0 assists per game in a single season. Jordan (1988-89) is the only player to have averaged at least 30.0 points per game, 8.0 assists per game, 5.0 rebounds per game and 2.00 steals per game in a single season. Dating back to 1964-65, Jordan (37.1 ppg in 1986-97) is the only player to have averaged at least 36.0 ppg in a single season.
Harden was recently voted as a starter for the 2019 NBA All-Star Game. It is the third straight year that he has been named a starter. Harden has been named an All-Star in each of his seven seasons as a Rocket.
Last season, Harden was named the NBA's Most Valuable Player after leading the Rockets to a franchise-record 65 wins. He finished second in voting for the award in both 2014-15 and 2016-17. Harden is the only player to be a unanimous All-NBA First Team selection in each of the past two seasons.
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