James Harden is simply unreal.
As the Houston Rockets defeated the Memphis Grizzlies, 112-94, on Monday night, the reigning NBA MVP scored 57 points while shooting 17-of-33 from the field and 17-of-18 on his free throws. Heck, that's not even mentioning that he scored a franchise-record 36 points in the first half alone.
However, the 57 points during the game and the 36 points at halftime weren't the biggest stories -- the biggest story was the fact that Harden scored 30 or more points for the 17th straight game, breaking Kobe Bryant's record since the ABA-NBA merger in 1976.
As hard as it may be to believe, the Rockets are playing better in the absence of Chris Paul. Paul has been sidelined with a hamstring injury since a Dec. 20 game versus the Miami Heat, and Harden has completely carried this team on his back since. During Paul's absence, the Rockets have gone 9-3 and have climbed from being outside the playoff race to having the fifth-best record in the Western Conference.
During that 12-game stretch, Harden has averaged a ridiculous 41.9 points per game. Not only has he scored more than 30 points in every game, but he has also scored over 40 points in eight of those 12 games.
For those wondering, the all-time NBA record for consecutive 30-plus point games was set by Wilt Chamberlain in 1963-64 with 20, according to ESPN.
With Paul not due back until the end of January, the Rockets will have to continue to ride Harden's scoring momentum for another couple of weeks. Considering the way that he has played over the past month, do we have any reason to think he's going to slow down any time soon?