James Harden reaches 'another level' with NBA's best 30-point streak in two years

James Harden's hot streak is the best since Russell Westbrook's run late in 2016, delighting coach Mike D'Antoni.

Harden's 41 points ensured the Rockets won 113-109 at home to give the Thunder (21-12) a second consecutive narrow defeat.   -  Getty Images

Mike D'Antoni feels James Harden has reached a level not seen before after the reigning MVP led the Houston Rockets to a Christmas Day win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Harden's 41 points ensured the Rockets won 113-109 at home to give the Thunder (21-12) a second consecutive narrow defeat, in what was one of the NBA's five marquee festive fixtures.

The 29-year-old has now scored at least 30 points in seven straight matches, the first player to do so since Russell Westbrook recorded a run of eight in November 2016.

Despite Harden's past achievements in the game, Rockets coach D'Antoni does not think he has seen him perform with such quality.

"We've got a lot of guys playing at a high level right now," he told reporters. "So many guys contributed. We try not to get too ahead of ourselves, but [we are] playing better.

"James, like I said, is up to another level that I don't know maybe he's been there before. It's hard to tell once he gets to that altitude, but he's playing great."

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"Clint Capela has gone up a level I think from last year," D'Antoni added of the in-form center who had 23 rebounds, setting a new record for Christmas Day fixtures.

"We are a more complete team, and we can handle adversity with Chris [Paul] being out and James Ennis being out because now we have more of a slate of players."

And Rockets debutant Austin Rivers was relieved he no longer has to guard Harden.

"No more step-backs, now I just get to smile," he said after a 10-point appearance off the bench.

"He did a couple, man, I was just like, 'Goodness gracious'. He's the best offensive player in the NBA with the ball in his hands. There's nobody like him."

After a miserable start to the season, the Rockets has now won seven of eight, improving its record to 18-15.

Harden said: "[Our] record isn't where we want it to be, but it's getting there.

"We're preparing for a postseason. We're not going to be at our tip-top right now, which is a great thing, so we've got something to build to. We've had that confidence all year."

Westbrook narrowly missed a triple-double with 21 points, nine assists and nine rebounds, while Paul George had 28 points and 14 rebounds.

"We had some bad bounces which got them a couple of extra possessions which got them some open 3s," reflected George.

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