Sportress of Blogitude

James Harden outpaces DeMarcus Cousins, scores career-high 51 points in win

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James Harden added another accomplishment to bolster his résumé in what already has been an MVP-caliber season by scoring a career-high 51 points in the Houston Rockets’ 115-111 home win on Wednesday night over the Sacramento Kings.

Harden’s 51 points came on 16-for-25 shooting night that featured an astounding 8-for-9 from three-point range as well as a tidy 11-for-13 from the charity stripe. He also added eight rebounds, six assists and three steals in the victory.

The Rockets points-gobbling guard’s latest big time scoring outburst comes on the heels of him notching a previous career-high 50 on March 19 in a win over the Denver Nuggets. Harden leads the NBA this season in both 30 points-plus scoring games (33) as well as games with 40 or more points (9).

While the two technically weren’t playing head-to-head, Harden after the game credited the big night on his bid to keep pace with Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins, who posted a triple-double, the second of his career, with 24 points, 20 rebounds and 10 assists.

“I had to match his energy,” Harden said, according to a Houston Chronicle report. “If he takes over the game and he is doing everything, I have to bring that same intensity to even it out. He is a great player and I wanted to match that intensity. He had a great game tonight.”

But not enough to outduel Harden, who continues to state his MVP case night after night while leading the Rockets to a 51-24 record. With Wednesday’s win, the Rockets moved into a tie for the second seed in the Western Conference with the idle Memphis Grizzlies, who have not played since Monday.

It certainly appears that the race to MVP will come down to the wire, with Harden’s stiffest competition coming from Stephen Curry and perhaps Russell Westbrook. Also in the fray are Chris Paul, Anthony Davis, and yes, LeBron James. It should be a furious ride to the finish.

Highlights from Harden’s big night.

Fear the beard, indeed.

“I’m not gonna lie,” Rockets forward Trevor Ariza said. “That was fun to watch.”

Ain’t that the truth.

(image credit: AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)