On-target Harden gets Rockets on track

James Harden scored a season-high 46 points Saturday. Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports

James Harden had what for him was a slow start to the season. He averaged 18.0 points in the Houston Rockets’ first three games.

The Rockets lost all three of those games.

In the four games since, Harden has been pouring in points. He scored a season-high 46 on Saturday against the Clippers.

With Harden carrying the scoring load, the Rockets have won their past four games. Harden has averaged 38.5 points in that span.

On Saturday, Harden was 14-of-26 from the field, including 5-of-10 on 3-pointers and 13-of-14 on free throws. In each of the Rockets’ wins, Harden has attempted at least 11 free throws.

In his past two games, Harden is 27-of-49, including 9-of-20 on 3-pointers, for an effective field goal percentage of 64.3 percent.

Of Harden’s 46 points Saturday, three came off assists.

Harden's improved 3-point shooting and increased free throw attempts have contributed to his recent surge. Harden has scored 33.9 percent of the Rockets’ points over the past four games (154 of 454).

Consecutive 40-point games

Harden has back-to-back 40-point games for the second time in his career (he scored 43 on Friday in a road game against the Kings).

The other time was on Feb. 8 and Feb. 10 of last season, against the Trail Blazers and the Suns.

In the game against Portland, Harden was 19-of-23 from the line and 11-of-25 from the field. Against the Suns, Harden was 13-of-23 from the field, including 3-of-7 on 3-pointers. He was 11-of-14 on free throws.

Harden has scored 46 or more four times in his career. Three of those came in the 2015 calendar year.