The Houston Rockets were having a miserable season. Then James Harden decided to take matters into his own hands.
Following their overtime win over the Golden State Warriors on Friday, in which Harden led the way with 44 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds, the Rockets have won 11 of their last 12 games. They now sit in the fourth spot in the Western Conference, trailing the Denver Nuggets at the top of the standings by only 3.5 games.
With how well Harden has been playing lately, let's take a look at five stats you need to know from his last 12 games.
40.1: How many points Harden is averaging
Harden has scored 40-plus points seven times in the last month. The most he has scored is 50, which came in a win over LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers on Dec. 14.
Most impressive of all is that Harden has scored 40 or more points in five straight games, joining Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Allen Iverson as the only players in NBA history to score that many points in that many consecutive games.
Harden's field goal percentage (.438) is down slightly in his last 12 games, but he's been punishing teams from the 3-point line (.418) and getting to the free throw line at will (13.8 attempts per game). The combination gives him a True Shooting Percentage comparable to some of most efficient scorers in the league.
With his recent play, Harden leads the league in scoring by a margin of 4.7 points per game. That would be the largest gap between the first and second leading scorers since Michael Jordan over Dominique Wilkins in 1986-87.
14.2: How many 3-pointers Harden is taking
Not only is Harden making his 3-pointers at a high rate, he's taking an obscene amount of them. He even made history in his most recent outing against the Golden State Warriors.
In going 10-23 from beyond the arc, Harden became only the eighth player in NBA history to attempt at least 20 3-pointers in a game. The only player to have converted more of those attempts than Harden? Klay Thompson, when he broke Stephen Curry's NBA record with 14 made 3-pointers earlier this season.
That volume has helped Harden hit at least five 3-pointers in eight straight games. According to Tas Melas of The Starters, it's something we've never seen before, not even from Curry or Thompson.
James Harden is the only player in NBA history to make five or more 3-pointers in eight consecutive games.- Tas Melas (@TasMelas) January 4, 2019
At this rate, Harden will break Curry's record for the most 3-point attempts per game (11.2) in a single season - Harden is now up to 12.2 3-point attempts per game.
7.6: How many 3s per game Harden is taking after 7+ dribbles
Harden is taking difficult 3-pointers, too. Of the 170 triples he has attempted in his last 12 games, more than half have come after seven or more dribbles.
That's in line with what Harden has been doing all season long. As Bo Schwartz of Nylon Calculus noted, 226 of Harden's 416 3-point attempts have come after seven-plus dribbles.
That's considerably more than every single team in the league.
James Harden has attempted 416 3-pointers this season.- Bo Schwartz Madsen (@BoSchwartz) January 4, 2019
226 of them have been after 7+ dribbles.
The next TEAM in 3P attempts after 7+ dribbles are Charlotte with 113. pic.twitter.com/WS277sxlGe
Almost all of those have come in the form of Harden's signature step back. According to NBA.com, Harden has already attempted 206 step back 3-pointers this season, of which he has made 88 (42.7 percent).
At his height and his length, there's basically nothing that can be done to stop him from making these sorts of shots:
4: How many triple-doubles Harden has
You should know by now that there is much more to Harden's game than just scoring.
To go along with the 40.1 points per game, Harden is averaging 9.0 assists and 6.6 rebounds. He's reached double figure assists and rebounds - as well as points - in four of his last 12 games.
One of Harden's triple-doubles came in that game he scored 50 against the Lakers. In doing so, he broke a tie with Russell Westbrook for the most 50-point triple-doubles (4) in NBA history.
Harden now has five triple-doubles on the season, tying him with Ben Simmons for the second-most in the league. The only player with more is Westbrook (11).
He also has 13 double-doubles on the season, tying him with Jrue Holiday for the third-most among guards.
39.7: Harden's usage rate
This isn't new territory for Harden, who led the league in usage rate last season. He's just kicked it up a notch since Chris Paul was ruled out indefinitely with a hamstring injury.
Whereas Harden's usage sat at 36.2 percent in the lead-up to Paul's injury, it's spiked to 42.9 percent in the games since. Eric Gordon is the only other Rocket to have a usage rate greater than 20.0 percent during that stretch.
That's an incredible load to carry, but Harden isn't showing any signs of slowing down.