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The scorching-hot Houston Rockets aren’t feeling any pressure, even after extending their winning streak to 17 with a 110-99 takedown of the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night in Milwaukee.
Even though the Rockets (51-13) own the best record in the NBA, MVP candidate James Harden said Houston is not the team to beat, but the Rockets are having a ball.
“Nah,” Harden said when queried if he feels he and his teammates, who stand one game ahead of defending champion Golden State, should be considered the favorites to win the NBA crown this season. “I feel like we’re just out there swaggin’ and hoopin’.”
Harden finished with 26 points, five rebounds, six assists and four steals for the Rockets, while backcourt tag-team partner Chris Paul had 16 points, five boards and 11 dimes.
The Beard got the Rockets rolling early, firing in 21 of his 26 points in the first two quarter. Afterward, he and his teammates were not overly excited, despite extending their winning streak.
CAN'T STOP THE BEARD. ? pic.twitter.com/RlFA4aSG1e
— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) March 8, 2018
“Because we’re just out there hoopin’,” Harden said. “We’re not worried about wins and losses right now. We’re worried about playing the right way on both ends of the floor and that’s going to carry over into the postseason.
“More times than not, 90 percent of the time, if you play the right way on both ends of the floor great things will happen. The result? Get wins.”
Paul has experienced a 17-game winning streak before, during the 2012-13 season when he was a Los Angeles Clipper.
“That was my first year out in LA, it was a little bit of a younger team,” Paul said. “This is a veteran team. We don’t even talk about the streak, we hoop, we just keep trying to build game by game.
“You see us during the game, sometimes we get on each other and all that stuff like that, but we don’t get on the plane and not talk to each other, you know what I mean? We understand that it’s big picture and we’re just hoopin’.”
Next up for Houston will be a matchup with the Toronto Raptors, which will pit the team with the best record in the West against the team with the best record in the East. The Raptors (47-17) extended their winning streak to six with a 121-119 overtime triumph in Detroit.
Though his team is rolling, Houston coach Mike D’Antoni admits he’s thought about when the streak will be snapped. The Rockets will face a stern test Friday night against the Raptors, who sport a 27-5 record at home at Air Canada Centre.
“I think it every day,” he said. “That’s a coach’s life. I’m scared to death of Friday already.”