Chris Paul insisted he is happy to accept a role complementing — and complimenting — James Harden after the reigning MVP scored 40 more points in the Rockets’ 103-98 win Sunday over the Magic.
Paul, a nine-time All-Star point guard, returned from a 17-game absence and helped the Rockets to their third straight victory.
His comeback from a hamstring injury did not result in a decrease in the numbers of Harden, who extended his streak of scoring at least 30 points to 23 games – a sequence only bettered by Wilt Chamberlain in NBA history.
“James is going to be James,” Paul told reporters after the game.
“I don’t care who [is] on the court — me or anybody. He’s going to be him and we need him to be him. That’s why he’s the MVP.
“I think everybody gets caught up in how many points he’s scoring, how many time he’s dribbling, how many times he’s passing.
23 straight games of 30+ points pic.twitter.com/3WKM6dyV7z
— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) January 28, 2019
“Just respect what he’s doing. Guys who play in this league know how hard it is to do that night in, night out.
“If everybody else could do it, they would.
“James has been playing unbelievable.”
Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni believes there will be less pressure on Harden to continually deliver when Paul is fully up to speed.
“I think that Chris, when he really feels good, he’ll take a lot away from James in the sense of, ‘You don’t have to go every time,'” D’Antoni said.
“Then James can even be better. I don’t think his points will go down. I think he will be better.
“He played 37 minutes [against Orlando]. If we can get it down to 35, it would be great. Then he’ll have even more energy to get more points.
“I think it will be better in the long run.”