Capela has missed the last 15 games while Paul has also missed a sizeable chunk of the season, leaving Harden to have to lead the team in their absences.
The NBA’s reigning MVP has scored 30-plus points in his last 31 consecutive games, with the Rockets going 20-10 over that time. Only Wilt Chamberlain has ever managed such a run, eclipsing 30 points per game 65 times in a row in 1961-62.
But while wearing a microphone for NBA TV, Golden State Warriors guard Steph Curry suggested that Harden does not enjoy having to dominate on the offensive end for the Rockets.
In conversation with coach Mike Budenholzer during Saturday’s All-Star game practice, Curry said: “The first thing he said was like, ‘Yeah, this is fun, but I wanna play different [than] like playing by myself, whatever, hero ball.’”
Harden also recently told ESPN that he is not focused on his scoring streak but says he has done it all himself to give Houston “a chance to win the game”.
He said: “It’s something that I just had to do because of our situation. I think the streak just started happening, and now it’s like something to talk about. It’s not something that I’m really honestly focused on.”
And Rockets GM Morey – speaking to Colin Cowherd on The Herd – suggests that the team will ease the burden on the league’s leading point-scorer (36.6 ppg) now, starting against the Los Angeles Lakers tonight.
On Harden’s scoring run, Morey admitted: “He had to do it. We’ve had so many injuries. This is our first healthy night for our starters, I think, in months.
“Tonight against the Lakers, we’re full strength and against playoff [mode] LeBron [James], it should be a great show for folks.
“We were in bad shape, we had Chris out, we had Clint out. We needed him to step up. He put us on his shoulders.
“He’s actually been playing both ends really well, having his best defensive season as well.
“The reality is it’s what we needed. You can fall out of the West easily as the team we’re playing tonight knows.”
The Rockets were a game away from the NBA Finals last year, with Paul’s Game 7 absence due to a hamstring injury seeing them lose to the Golden State Warriors.
Houston remain one of the teams seen as the biggest challengers to the Warriors as they seek a franchise-first ‘three-peat’ after their back-to-back titles.
And Morey insists the franchise are doing their all to get on Golden State’s level between now and the playoffs.
He added to Cowherd: “We’re looking at some signings right now so this is pretty relevant. [Owner] Tillman Fertitta, what I love about him, he’s been successful at everything else by being a smart risk-seeker and he’s empowered us to really take that mode.
“That’s a mode that we like. We’re still chasing the Warriors, all-time great team, probably should have won four titles in a row – won three. We need to take risks.
“We’re not as good as them. We hope to be as good as them by April 15. We’re going to continue to take swings at this.
“We took swings at the start of the year. Everyone sort of criticised what we did, what we didn’t do.
“Our goal is to be the best team on April 15. That’s always been our goal, that’s what we’re moving towards and that means trying things.”
The Rockets face the Lakers at 10.30pm ET/3.30am UK time.