Harden gets 21st triple-double, leads Rockets past Kings
Apr 12 2017 by Dustin Murphy
After What Westbrook just did, Harden is going to have to steal the MVP if he wants it.
Pierce scored 10 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, to pass Havlicek. He's setting career-highs in assists and rebounds, and he's been more efficient (61.9 true shooting percentage) than any of the other candidates. Your name is James Harden and your Houston Rockets are 54-26, third place in the brutally tough Western Conference.
With another thrilling conclusion to a championship game in the NCAA Tournament, College Football in full Spring Football mode, the NFL Draft still a few weeks away and Major League Baseball teams only a few games into their 162-game season, the attention of the sports world quickly shifts into the tail end of the National Basketball Association regular season. Westbrook and Robertson are the only ones to ever do it in a regular season. Each of the aforementioned four players has a case for MVP, and each have blemishes in the resume. Although it has become a matter of tradition, the number 82 is entirely arbitrary, with no underlying argument that makes it better than perhaps 76 or 66. Westbrook has made OKC fans forget about Kevin Durant and that's a major accomplishment. It's something he's done all season, and it's something he'll look to do in the playoffs as well. With Tim Duncan retired, Leonard has stepped right into his shoes as San Antonio's quiet, unassuming leader. Their 135 points were a season-high. Normally when debating MVP candidates, a team's record is a big factor.
Reminder: There are still two games to be played. Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James is noticeably absent from the conversation, despite having another incredible season.
In recent seasons, LeBron has not been in the conversation for the MVP award almost enough. The Thunder do not have a player like Lou Williams on their roster, but Houston was winning before he joined the team at the trade deadline.
Any voter that was left undecided, however, has likely been swayed by Westbrook's tidal wave during this month, which has included him locking up the first triple-double average for a season since Oscar Robertson in 1961-62, before breaking the Big O's record for most triple-doubles in a campaign.
So when Harden comes out like he did on Sunday, saying the MVP Award is predominantly about winning, he really isn't making a better case for himself. Putting players on the court more and more only increases the risk of these injuries happening.
Russell Westbrook's Oklahoma City Thunder are locked into the sixth seed.
To win this series the Thunder have to make this a defensive battle; they simply can't outscore Houston. With Houston coach Mike D'Antoni trusting Harden to play point guard, the Rockets are benefiting from the Beard's exceptional performance.
The Thunder, on the other hand, are a completely different story. But is he any better than Victor Oladipo, who has a better PER and an edge in Win Shares? Is that what counts as value?
The race for MVP honors in the National Basketball Association has narrowed to five contenders - Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook, Houston's James Harden, Cleveland's LeBron James, San Antonio's Kawhi Leonard and Golden State's Steph Curry. One was Michael Jordan in 1989. Shouldn't crushing a 55-year-old record in professional sports be an nearly instant clincher of MVP hardware? Seven Kings players finished in double figures, led by Skal Labissiere's 25 points. Thus, Harden's season has also been historic while pushing his team significantly closer to contention than the Thunder.