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James Harden brought the flamethrower to Golden State

We have that and more in Friday’s NBA newsletter.

NBA: Houston Rockets at Golden State Warriors Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Folks, you cannot look away from James Harden right now. No matter the circumstances, no matter the opponent, you’ve got to stay glued to him, because he’s doing something special.

The Warriors led the Rockets by 17 at the half on Thursday night, and it looked like James Harden’s fiery streak of 40-point games might end as The Beard had 15 points on 4-13 shooting in the first half. But Harden brought the flamethrower out in the second half as Houston closed the lead entirely, and then he scorched the living daylights out of Klay Thompson and Draymond Green at the same damn time in OT with a killer game-winning three.

The end result: 44 points, 10 rebounds, 15 assists, and a huge road win over the rival Warriors, who were at full strength (minus Boogie Cousins) while the Rockets are missing Chris Paul. Harden joins Kobe, Iverson, and Jordan as the only players in the past 50 years to score 40 in five straight games.

The Rockets have won six straight and are only two games behind the Warriors in the standings. James Harden might suddenly be the MVP favorite, and we might need to rekindle discussions from last winter about whether he’s the best player alive. Call me a prisoner of the moment, but ... did you see that moment?!

Scores

Raptors 107, Spurs 125
Nuggets 117, Kings 113
Rockets 135, Warriors 134 (OT)

Schedule

All times Eastern. These are just national TV games. Check the full schedule for more.

Friday
Mavericks at Celtics, 8, ESPN
Thunder at Blazers, 10:30, ESPN

Saturday
Raptors at Bucks, 8:30, NBA TV

Sunday
Pacers at Raptors, 7:30, NBA TV

Links

Did you wonder how Spurs fans would react to Kawhi Leonard in his return to San Antonio on Thursday? They booed him repeatedly and chanted “TRAITOR” at him, all while cheering Danny Green’s return. Oh, and DeMar DeRozan had maybe the best game of his career. This is what catharsis looks like.

Timely: a robust, detailed timeline of how everything fell apart for Kawhi and the Spurs.

How Toronto should remember DeRozan. How San Antonio should remember Kawhi.

Speaking of dudes getting booed, I will admit that Lakers fans booing Paul George is a bit odd.

Trade alert! Justin Holiday to the Grizzlies for Wayne Selden, two second-rounder, and One Of The Brooks Brothers Don’t Ask Me To Confirm Which One We Don’t Want The Trade To Fall Apart.

How Enes Kanter hurts the Knicks on both sides of the ball.

Anthony Davis continues to put up sterling numbers in losing efforts. It’s so sad. Here’s Tom Habestroh on how the Pelicans failed Davis.

CHRIS PAUL RAJON RONDO BEEF HISTORY!

Chris Herring on the Kings’ speed addiction.

Bol Bol might miss the rest of the college basketball season. Here’s what that means for the NBA Draft.

And finally: beautiful story from A.K. Clemmons on how Virginia’s Kyle Guy dealt with anxiety on the national stage last spring, and how he deals with it today.

Be excellent to each other.