It may seem like another day at the office for Harden, who has been on an absolute tear lately, but this was far from it.
Harden had just four points in the first half and was a hideous 1-9 shooting at one point before kicking it into gear late in the game.
During the third quarter, Harden finally realized that his jumpers just weren't going to fall, so he stopped taking the semi-contested shots he's used to making and started attacking the rim. He made his first eight free throws before missing one and ended the game 14-15 from the free throw line.
Then, once the fourth quarter rolled around and Dion Waiters was guarding him instead of Alonzo Gee, he turned it on.
Hell, Harden was able to out-fourth-quarter Kyrie Irving (who had 11 points in the fourth), who has made something of a name for himself with his fourth quarter dominance.
Able to get loose and take open three-pointers, Harden went 3-5 from downtown after starting the game 0-4, ending up with 29 points, 16 of which came in the fourth quarter.
On James Harden the closer: All 16 of his 4th quarter points came in the final 7:07. He was 2-13 FG, then hit 4-4 in final 6:35.— ClutchFans.net (@clutchfans) January 6, 2013
James Harden has scored 25+ points in 12 straight games, one shy of the Rockets franchise record by Moses Malone in 1981-82 (per Elias).— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 6, 2013
This clip is just a taste of what Harden was able to do in the fourth quarter. Waiters was, to his credit, playing solid defense on Harden, playing 15 seconds of incredibly solid defense. Harden slipped past him at the last second and drained a deep three-pointer.
It's just another win for the Rockets, but more so it's a confidence booster for Harden, a vote of confidence from Kevin McHale, and quite a show for the rest of us.
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