Reigning MVP James Harden scored 57 points on Monday, leading the Houston Rockets to an easy 112-94 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.
Harden also broke the record for most consecutive games with 30-plus points since the 1976-77 NBA merger, breaking the record that was set by Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant in 2003.
The 29-year-old Harden continues to carry the Rockets while key players continue to deal with injuries. All-Star point guard Chris Paul has been lost or large portions of the season as he continues to deal with a hamstring injury, while Clint Capela has been ruled out for four to six weeks with a thumb injury.
Harden currently leads the NBA in scoring with 34.8 points per game, considerably ahead of the field. Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry and Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans are tied for second with 29.4 points per game.
There's obviously plenty of basketball left, but Harden has certainly made a strong case for himself to repeat as MVP. The Rockets stood at 11-14 on Dec. 8 but have gone 14-4 ever since, thanks in large part to Harden's efforts.
Houston led the NBA with 65 wins last season, and they fell just one game short in dethroning the defending champion Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. After a sluggish start to the season, Harden has the Rockets right back in the playoff picture.
Harden continues to score at a ridiculous pace, carrying the Rockets as they anxiously await the returns of other key players. If this keeps up, it's easy to envision him winning another MVP award.
What This Means
When Paul and Capela return to the lineup, the Rockets will have all the pieces in place to make a serious run at the NBA Championship once again. For now, they'll settle with some big-time wins as Harden continues to score in bunches while breaking records.