Just how he does he keep on doing it? James Harden has scored 40 points in an NBA for the fourth time in a row. Even better than that is the fact that the Beard has fueled the Houston Rockets’ run to tie currently for fourth in the Western Conference standings. That doesn’t sound like a big deal, but this team is without Chris Paul (and Trevor Ariza, too, don’t forget) and were in dead place in the conference as recently as three weeks ago. Yep, three weeks, this team wasn’t even going to make it to the playoffs. Now they are 21-15 and are in a position to go on and challenge for the top seeds when the playoffs do come around. And while it’s a team game, Harden has to be the first man mentioned. His 43 points last night was part of a triple-double performance that led his Rockets to a 113-101 over the Memphis Grizzlies. Over the course of the last 11 games, in which they have went an astounding 10-1, he has averaged 39.7 points. Over the last ten games, he’s got 408 points, making him the only man not named Kobe or Michael to have 40 points per game in a 10 game stretch. That’s MVP status, like it or not. We all know where that award should be headed this year, and it’s just turned January.
According to sources, the Seattle Mariners have reportedly agreed a deal to sign left-handed pitcher Yusei Kikuchi from the Seibu Lions in Japan. The move comes as somewhat of a surprise given that some felt the Mariners had moved themselves out of contention by trading away some mainstays in the team. But signing the 27 year old to a four year deal, supposedly, they are stating that they want to keep up a challenge out west. They had been in the race for a while last season, but they faded away down the stretch behind the Astros and the A’s. Kikuchi is one of the finest pitchers in the Japanese league, using a ferociously fast fastball for a lefty and a good slider. His best season was in 2017, but the Mariners have still decided to bite here on him. It makes sense, too, from a P.R. standpoint as the area has always done well with Japanese stars. That should continue. Will he match Ichiro’s on-field success? We will see.
New Year’s Eve has always been a warm up of sorts for college football bowl games, and despite it feeling weird with the playoffs thrown in before them now, it still has that feeling. There are some good games but not quite any great teams. The best game played on Tuesday matched up the Missouri Tigers with the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the Liberty Bowl. The ball was slung all over the yard in this one as the Cowboys outlasted their SEC foes and former Big 12 rivals by a score of 38-33.