Harden wasn’t perfect.
At 19 for 30, he had his best shooting night of the year, and he made 17 of 18 free throws. But he shot only 5 for 14 from 3-point range. Harden, who has had 6-for-10 and 5-for-9 3-point shooting games in January, may have actually left a few points on the floor.
Harden is having a huge season.
Harden now has four 50-point games this season; the rest of the N.B.A. has four total.
He leads the league in scoring, 3-pointers made and 3-pointers attempted (he led in none of those last season). Despite all those points, he is third in the league in assists.
As usual, he has shown a knack for getting to the free-throw line and making his shots there. Harden’s last three seasons rank second, third and fourth in free throws made this century.
He also is arguably the single most important player to his team this season. He leads in “usage,” a statistic that calculates how many of a team’s plays are run through a particular player. Behind him are Russell Westbrook of the Thunder and Joel Embiid of the 76ers.
Harden’s individual numbers have helped lead the Rockets to a 36-13 record, second best to the Warriors. If they keep that rate up, they would set a franchise record for wins.
Where does it rank?
Basketball-Reference’s Game Score stat sums up all of a player’s contributions. By that measure, Harden had the best game of the N.B.A. season, surpassing LeBron James’s 57-point, 11-rebound effort against the Wizards in November.
Game Score data goes back to 1983-84 (so it does not include legendary games like Chamberlain’s 100-pointer). In that time, the top four games were Michael Jordan’s career-high 69-pointer in 1990, Kobe Bryant’s 81-pointer in 2006, Karl Malone’s 61 in 1990 and a 73-point game by David Thompson in 1978. Harden’s gem is judged fifth best.
The game was also the first 60-pointer by a Rocket. Harden now has nine 50-point games as a Rocket. All the other players to wear the uniform now have eight.