Houston Rockets: 3 biggest takeaways from current win streak

(Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images) /

1. James Harden is playing like a man possessed

To be honest, if the Rockets had any hopes of bouncing back from their slow start, their top player (James Harden) was going to have to put the team on his shoulders.

Challenge accepted.

Following a respectable 29-point outing against the Trail Blazers on Dec. 11, Harden went into ridiculous mode after that. He dropped 50 points against the Lakers on 14-for-26 shooting to go along with 11 assists and 10 rebounds, giving him his second triple-double of the season.

As impressive as those performances were, Harden was just getting warmed up. Two nights later against the Memphis Grizzlies, Harden messed around and posted another triple-double, finishing the game with a stat line of 32 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists.

In Houston’s most recent outing against a Jazz team that had defeated them in two earlier meetings this season, Harden turned in another gem of a performance. His final stat line included 47 points, six rebounds, five assists and five steals.

Even though Harden is the reigning MVP, his recent play drew nothing but praise from head coach Mike D’Antoni.

"“I know he’s the MVP and everything, but this level the last three or four games is where it’s really high,” D’Antoni told ESPN. “It’s as good as he’s ever played.”"

To put Harden’s recent string of solid outings into perspective, on the season, he holds averages of 31. 5 points, 8.2 assists and 5.8 rebounds per contest on slash lines of .454/.371/.845. During Houston’s four-game winning streak, he is averaging 39.5 points, 7.5 assists, 7.3 rebounds and 2.5 steals per game.

Also, he is shooting 51.1 percent from the field and 37.5 percent from beyond the arc. Furthermore, he has converted 49 of his last 55 attempts (89 percent) from the charity stripe. The Rockets had been underperforming for most of the season and needed a huge lift to help right the ship.

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Harden has done that and then some.