James Harden has been scoring prodigiously for several seasons. And on Saturday, he scaled another points-based plateau, becoming the 45th player in NBA history to score 20,000 career points.
And yet, the All-NBA guard didn’t have much to say after he surpassed the total in the second quarter of Houston’s blowout win over Minnesota.
“It’s a great accomplishment obviously,” he said. “I have a bigger picture and bigger goals but it’s pretty cool.”
Teammate and longtime friend Russell Westbrook, who also played in the game when Harden got the first points of his NBA career, was much more effusive in his comments about the milestone.
“To be able to do that on a very, very high level is something we don’t take for granted,” Westbrook said. “Growing up in L.A. and being able to see him progress over the years to me is just a blessing to see as his friend and I’m truly happy for him.”
Harden scored 32 points, adding 12 rebounds and eight assists in just three quarters, to help the Rockets roll to the 139-109 victory.
He is the seventh-youngest player to hit the mark. Harden entered the game 10 points away and reached the milestone in fitting fashion, on a step-back 3-pointer midway through the second quarter.
The public address announcer simply said 20,000 after Harden hit the shot, before a video was played during the next timeout to mark the occasion. The video showed him making his first points in the NBA while with the Thunder, then making a free throw that gave him 10,000 points and a replay of the 3 that got him to 20,000.
He got the game ball on Saturday and presented it to his mother.
“’She has everything,” Harden said. “Every goal and achievement that I have, she has it. I gave it to her and she’ll put it in a safe place.”