Rocket man

HOUSTON Rockets guard James Harden (left) drives to the basket past Dallas Mavericks guard Tim Hardaway Jr. during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Houston. The Rockets won, 120-104.                                 AP

HOUSTON — There was only a little over a minute left in Houston’s game and it looked as if James Harden’s streak of 30-point games would be ending.

Harden brought the ball down the court and was enveloped by two defenders near the three-point line, so he passed to Chris Paul, who drew the defense away.

After a couple of dribbles Paul turned and got it back to Harden, who stepped back and sunk a three-pointer over Dorian Finney-Smith to keep the streak alive.

Harden scored 31 points for his 30th straight 30-point game despite dealing with a shoulder injury, leading the Rockets to a 120-104 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Monday night.
Paul was asked if he was determined to help Harden extend the streak.

“For sure. He had what 28, so yeah, why not? We were up,” Paul said.

Harden, who had eight rebounds and seven assists, seemed to be a bit slowed early by the strained left shoulder that he injured on Saturday against Oklahoma City, making just one of his first seven shots.

But he warmed up after that and finished 9 of 23, capped by his sixth three-pointer with 52.9 seconds remaining. Fans chanted “MVP! MVP!” after he sunk the shot.

Harden denied that he was concerned about getting 30 points, but he did say it was a “credit to” Paul that he got the ball back to him.

“I was worried about winning,” Harden said.

“They were making their shots. They were coming back, cut the lead to I think 10 or nine points so I just wanted to get the proper shots. I was just trying to make the right play.”

He’s now just one game from tying Wilt Chamberlain for the second-longest streak of 30-point games in NBA history. Chamberlain also holds the top 30-point game streak with 65 in a row.

Harden, who usually shies away from discussing any ailments, acknowledged that his shoulder was bothering him on Monday night and said he had been receiving treatment around the clock since Saturday night.

“I couldn’t get the lift that I usually have from my shot,” he said. “But that’s no excuse. I’m just happy we won the game.”

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