Even when everybody in the building knew he was taking the final shot, there was no stopping James Harden. In what would become the highest-scoring NBA season in over 30 years, the Houston Rockets superstar was already coming off a 2017-18 MVP campaign and had posted four consecutive games of at least 40 points by the time he arrived in Oakland to do battle with the defending-champion Golden State Warriors. Having already forced overtime with a game-tying 3-pointer in regulation, Harden’s Rockets trailed the Warriors by two in the final seconds of the extra session when Harden dribbled searching for an open sliver. He managed to get off the game-winning trey despite the best defensive efforts of Klay Thompson and Draymond Green to thwart the attempt, bringing Houston all the way back from down 20 in the process. In the 2018 Western Conference Finals rematch, Harden posted 44 points, 10 rebounds, 15 assists, plus 10 triples in 23 tries, for his second straight triple-double in a breathtaking 135-134 victory on January 3, 2019. In addition to it being the Beard’s fifth consecutive 40-point game, the performance also came during a stretch of 32 consecutive games with at least 30 points — a run that included three 50-point outbursts as well as a career-high 61. Harden averaged 36.1 points per game in 2018-19, the highest-scoring campaign since 1987.
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