Harden shrugs off any stress over his chances of making All-Star Game
James Harden has shrugged off any stress over his chances of making the All-Star Game, saying his numbers speak for themselves.
Harden had a double-double of 26 points and 10 assists as the Philadelphia 76ers beat the Orlando Magic 105-94 on Wednesday.
The 33-year-old is a 10-time All-Star, but an 11th successive appearance in the mid-season exhibition game is not guaranteed.
Harden faces stiff competition from several other star names, including Sixers team-mate Joel Embiid, in the Eastern Conference to make the reserve list for the All-Star Game. There are seven spots available for each conference.
Yet Harden, who is averaging 21.4 points per game – Embiid, with 33.5, is the only Sixers player to boast more – 6.4 rebounds and 11 assists this season, believes he has done enough.
"If my name is called, great," Harden told reporters. "If not, there's bigger and better goals for the season.
"I'm not going to sit here and make a case. The numbers show it, our seed shows it."
The Sixers are third in the East with a 33-17 record, having won eight of their previous nine games.
Harden made three catch-and-shoot three-pointers against Orlando and was thrilled to thrive in an area where he has struggled.
"That's pretty exciting, I didn't want to do too much, just catch and shoot," he explained.
"You put the work in, I work on it every day. So opportunities are going to come whether it's Joel or dribble penetration."
Embiid added: "That's not something he was comfortable with, but he's gotten better over time and he's taking more and more.
"He needs to take more than he does, but it's a good step. He's getting better and he's knocking them down."
Embiid was marked tightly by the Magic's Franz Wagner, though still topped the scoring with 28 points, adding 11 rebounds and three assists.
"A really good young player," Embiid said of Wagner. "Obviously, you can tell he's competitive, as he kept attacking even though he was not getting the better of me.
"But I like him, a great talent and as a team, that's a pretty good team."
Sixers coach Doc Rivers, meanwhile, saw scope for improvement.
"I didn't think we played great, but we played good enough to win," he said. "We'll take that."