Houston Rockets

All-Star Moment of the Night: James Harden scores 44 points to lift Houston Rockets over Brooklyn Nets

James Harden is back at it again.

The league's back-to-back scoring champ responded to a relatively quiet performance in a Christmas Day loss in a big way as he went for an efficient 44 points (on 63.0% shooting) to go along with 10 rebounds and six assists as the Houston Rockets earned a 108-98 win over the Brooklyn Nets.

Vote for your 2020 NBA All-Stars here!

How'd he do it? Partly by getting his work done early.

Harden was on pace for a scoring night of historic proportions as he came out of the gate firing on all cylinders with 23 points in the first quarter alone. Despite playing in under 10 minutes in the opening frame, the seven-time All-Star went 9-for-11 from the field, including 3-for-4 from deep.

Even crazier? He could have done more damage in the first as he missed four of his six free throw attempts in the quarter, something very uncharacteristic to see from an 86.5% free throw shooter.

After Houston led by as many as 22 in the first, Brooklyn responded by face guarding Harden to make things difficult. It worked in the second, as the Nets limited Harden to just two points and clawed back to within nine at the half.

As elite scorers do, Harden responded in the second half.

The Nets continued to try to make things difficult, even taking the lead in the fourth, but Harden always had an answer. He would go on to score 19 points (on 7-for-14 shooting) in the final two quarters to lead the Rockets to a 10-point win as they move to 22-10 on the season.

His 44th point came in trademark James Harden fashion.

Harden has now scored 40 or more points 13 times this season and 90 times in his 11-year NBA career, 89 of which have come in a Rockets uniform.

To take things a step further, Harden has failed to score 20 points just 81 times since joining the Rockets, meaning he is more likely to score 40 or more than he is to score less than 20 points.

Harden is now averaging a league-leading 38.3 points per game; 7.8 points separate him and second-leading scorer Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is averaging 30.5 points per contest.

It's a quick turnaround for the Rockets, who head to New Orleans to take on the Pelicans, who have won three straight games.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.

More from NBA.com

Gersson Rosas, Sachin Gupta, Minnesota Timberwolves
Report: Gupta to make Indian history with T'Wolves promotion
Kyle Irving
LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, Blake Griffin, Carmelo Anthony and James Harden
Fantasy draft: Lakers and Nets stars in their prime
Scott Rafferty and Kyle Irving
Pete Maravich
Before Showtime, there was Pete Maravich
Benyam Kidane
Sharpshooter JJ Redick has announced his retirement from the NBA
Redick announces retirement from NBA
Scott Rafferty
How can Zion take his game to next level?
Steve Aschburner
Nikola Jokic, Michael Porter Jr., Aaron Gordon, Denver Nuggets
Nuggets look to make leap into title contention
Gilbert McGregor
More News