Houston Rockets guard James Harden has been putting up points at a historic pace this season, but the reigning NBA MVP says his extreme output is the byproduct of necessity more than anything else. Harden has scored at least 30 points in 31 consecutive games, which ties Wilt Chamberlain for the second-longest such streak in NBA history.
"The scoring streak is obviously amazing, but it's something that I just had to do because of our situation," Harden said of his scoring streak, via ESPN. "We had all the injuries and guys in and out of the lineup and things like that. So I think the streak just started happening, and now it's like something to talk about.
"But it's not something that I'm really honestly focused on. That's something I have to do in order to give us a chance to win the game."
Harden has heard the criticism of his ball-dominant style of play, but he has done his best to ignore it.
"Yeah, I hear it. It's hard not to hear it -- especially nowadays," Harden said. "You have social media. You have fans that are reading what people saying and ask me about it... I try my best to block [criticism] out, but it's kind of hard, you know? Especially when it's coming from like ex-NBA players, you know? So it makes it more difficult, but, obviously, everybody's entitled to their own opinion."
Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant recently said that he didn't think that the Rockets would ever win a title with Harden dominating the ball as much as he has.
"I don't think that style's ever going to win championships,". "But at the same time you have to keep your team's head above water to win games. So you have to do what you have to do to win games. And he's doing that... This style of play, it won't win, with one player dominating the ball.
"Now when you have Chris Paul back, you have more movement to the offense. Where you move guys around, you're harder to find... If you take one player and put him on the top of the key... the defense can key on that, particularly in the playoffs, and that's easy to defend."
For what it's worth, Harden didn't disagree with Bryant's assessment after hearing his comments for the first time.
"I mean, I have to be ball dominant just because we have injuries," Harden said. "We had injuries throughout the course of the year, but when we get Chris [Paul] in a rhythm and Eric [Gordon] back and get our full roster, we got multiple guys that can make plays, multiple guys that can dominate the ball.
"For right now, he's probably right. This way, that we're playing, won't happen, won't get us to where we want to go. But we haven't had a full roster yet, so I'm excited for that to come."
Harden and the Rockets will be back in action against the Lakers in Los Angeles on Thursday night (10:30 p.m. ET -- Watch on FuboTV with NBA League Pass add-on).