Rockets 135, Warriors 134 - The MVP

By Forrest Walker on January 3, 2019

James Harden is the Most Valuable Player. What else can be said about the all-time game he turned in against the Golden State Warriors? The list of signature moments, critical storylines and unbelievable play tonight is an entire article by itself. In fact, it's this article. It's time to go over exactly what James Harden did tonight in a Houston's thrilling overtime win over the Golden State Warriors.

James Harden has now scored at least 40 points five games in a row, and at least 30 points for the last 11 games. His 44 point, 10 rebound, 15 assist outing was exactly as incredible as it sounds. He hit 10 of his 23 attempted threes, each of them critical. In a game without Chris Paul and Eric Gordon, the Rockets were given little reason to expect a win in Golden State.

For the first two thirds of the game, Houston's failure seemed destined. The Rockets couldn't hit an open shot and the Warriors couldn't miss in the early going, culminating in a 20-point lead in the opening minute of the second half. Unluckily for Golden State, there were 23 more minutes left before the end of regulation.

Even worse, there would be five more minutes of overtime for Harden to go nova.

Throughout, Houston seemed to be on the wrong end of every coin flip. Loose balls would bounce toward yellow jerseys, fouls went against the Rockets, and out of bounds reviews would swing unexpectedly toward Oakland. This feeling of an uphill climb (accurate or not) was capped off by an incredible non-call in which the Warriors took a two-point lead in the waning moments of overtime after Kevin Durant stepped completely out of bounds before saving the ball.

Everything seemed stacked against Harden and the Rockets winning the game, from the two possible concussions Harden and Austin Rivers were beset by, to the missed shots, to the referees to chance itself.

But just like Harden hit a ludicrously deep three to send the game to overtime, Harden would use this as simply a set-up for an even greater feat. Surrounded by Draymond Green and Klay Thompson, with the game clock ticking off the final seconds, Harden sank an impossible shot. Despite being undercut, despite not getting the foul call he wanted, he knocked it down and knocked off the Warriors in the process.

They were just collateral damage in his relentless pursuit of a second straight MVP award, which he has been anything but quiet about. He feels slighted by the NBA universe for not placing him front and center for MVP consideration, and the Warriors are simply the latest team to stand between him and his goal of forcing the collective NBA world to give him another MVP trophy to match the one he got last summer.

He is calling his shots and he is making them. He is carrying a team that looked lost a mere few weeks ago, and he is doing it without the two other guards in the rotation. Without a future hall of famer in Chris Paul, Harden is proving what was so obvious a year ago: he is the most unstoppable man in the MVP. James Harden is even better than he was last season, and that's terrifying.

He is hammering into stone that which is already true: James Harden is the MVP.

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