There was a time when experts questioned Harden’s athleticism. He silenced his critics once and for all after posterizing Cleveland’s J.J. Hickson on Dec. 12, 2010. Harden corralled a defensive rebound from underneath the basket and beat the entire Cavs team up the floor with five dribbles. When Harden exploded from two steps inside the free throw line, Hickson went up to challenge the attempt. Too late. Harden threw down a left-handed tomahawk while being fouled by Hickson with just less than a minute remaining in the first quarter. Harden punctuated the posterization by puffing repeatedly while peering at his teammates before unleashing a sly smile.
6. LIVING AT THE LINE AGAINST GOLDEN STATE
In his 20th career game, Harden scored 26 points against the Warriors on Dec. 7, 2009. But it was the way Harden scored half his points that stood out. Harden made 13 out of 14 free throws, which stands as his career best. In the second quarter, Harden marched to the stripe 10 times and made all 10. It was the first time we saw Harden’s ability to manufacture points so easily. That same knack for getting fouled is now a part of what makes Harden one of the most efficient players in the league.