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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 December
Posted: January 2, 2020 -- 3:56 p.m. CT
Today, the NBA announced that Houston Rockets guard James Harden has been named Western Conference Player of the Month for December. He has won four of the past six awards and has nine total in his career, all coming as a Rocket.
The Rockets were 10-5 in December, including 0-1 without Harden. For the month, Harden averaged 37.3 points, 6.9 assists, 5.6 rebounds, 2.1 steals and 1.2 blocks while shooting 48.1% from the floor, 42.5% from 3-point range and 85.0% from the foul line. Harden joined Andre Drummond, of the Detroit Pistons, as the only players to have averaged at least 2.00 steals per game and 1.00 blocks per game in December.
Harden had 144 more points than any other player last month and scored at least 34 points in nine of his 14 games played, including 50-plus three times. He had 54 points at Orlando on December 13 after scoring 55 at Cleveland on December 11, joining Wilt Chamberlain as the only players to have scored at least 54 points in consecutive road games in NBA history. Harden also hit a franchise-high tying 10 3-pointers in both of those games, joining Stephen Curry as the only players with 10 or more threes in consecutive games.
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Over the final 10 games of December, Harden shot 52.6% from the floor, including 50.0% or better in each of the past six games, which is the longest streak of his career. He has shot 50.0% or better in 15 of his 32 games played this season after doing so in 23 of his 78 games played in 2018-19.
Harden also hit at least four 3-pointers in each of the final 10 games of December, while averaging 6.4 threes made per game on 49.6% shooting over that span. That is the third-longest streak with at least 4 threes in NBA history; Harden owns the record with a 13-game streak in 2018-19. Harden has hit 171 3-pointers overall this season. No other player in league history had more than 146 threes through the first 34 games of a season.
Overall this season, Harden is averaging 38.2 points and he has scored a total of 1,261 points in 1,239 minutes of play. That is the highest point total through the first 34 games of a season since Michael Jordan had 1,283 in 1986-87.
Harden had a game-high 35 points in the Rockets 26-point win vs. Denver on New Year's Eve, giving him 2,981 points in 2,889 minutes played for the calendar year. He finished the decade as the NBA's leading scorer with 19,578 points going back to January 1, 2010. Harden needs 112 more points to become the 45th player with at least 20,000 career points in NBA history.
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