National Basketball Association

Blast Off

December 29, 2020

If there was a path for James Harden to make the NBA world and Houston Rockets fans forget about his off-the-floor transgressions and trade demands this offseason, he's on the right track. 

Houston is 0-2 on the season, but considering John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Gordon have missed both games due to COVID-19 concerns, the only reason the Rockets have been remotely competitive is the play of Harden.

The day after Christmas, in Houston's season-opener at Portland, "The Beard" was remarkable. 

He scored 20 of his 44 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, including a stepback dagger three with 15.3 seconds left that almost gave Houston the win, if it weren't for a 3-point answer from Blazers star CJ McCollum with 6.9 seconds to go that secured a 128-126 overtime win for Portland.

Harden ended the night shooting 12-for-21 from the field and 6-of-13 from deep. 

In the Rockets' second tilt of the season, they traveled to Denver on Monday, and fell to the Nuggets, 124-111. 

Still, Harden was sensational, scoring 34 points on 10-of-16 shooting from the field and 5-of-9 shooting from three. 

He added in eight assists and six rebounds in his 31 minutes of play, and not shockingly, "The Beard" is leading the league in scoring as of Tuesday.

Reports are that Wall, Cousins and Gordon will return to the Houston lineup on Thursday, providing some much-needed help for Harden and offseason acquisition Christian Wood. 

But any doubt of why Harden is one of the top players in the NBA has been wiped out in a matter of days, according to Shannon Sharpe.

Needless to say, Harden's performances have drawn the praises of the masses on Twitter.

Whether James Harden still wants out of Houston, or has reversed course, is a topic for another day. 

But whether he is still the greatest offensive player in the game today?

He's apparently looking to end any chatter that says otherwise with each passing night.

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