James Harden was saluted for an "incredible" feat by coach Doc Rivers after becoming the first Philadelphia 76ers player to post 20 assists in a game twice in a season.
After scoring a personal season-high 38 points in the 147-143 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday, Harden made his next game one to remember, too.
He was not so prolific in the points column against the Indiana Pacers on Monday night, with a modest 14 to his name, but 20 assists and nine rebounds helped to guide the Sixers to a 147-143 victory.
It followed his 21-assist game against the Los Angeles Clippers in December. These are the only 20-plus rebound games in 33-year-old Harden's career to date.
Joel Embiid led scorers with 42 points, while Tyrese Maxey (24 points) and Jalen McDaniels (20) also weighed in.
Rivers said of Harden's effort, amid a strong team display: "It's just incredible. The great thing about James overall is he pretty much doesn't turn the ball over a lot, makes smart plays.
"But his passing when he plays like tonight and the other night – the other night he had 30 and 10, tonight he had 14 and 20 – it just makes us so hard to beat with his ability to pass."
Looking at some of Harden's most audacious passing, Rivers said few in the NBA possessed comparable quality.
"Those passes are five-guys-in-the-league, maybe, passes," Rivers said.
back @ it tomorrow!— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) March 7, 2023
GN sixers twitter. pic.twitter.com/u5CVuwajHg
Harden joked about Maxey failing to secure him a 21st assist late in the game, as Philadelphia (42-22) consolidated third spot in the Eastern Conference.
"Seriously man, what are we doing? I'm just playing," Harden said.
"But I'm just trying to make plays. Not really efficient scoring the basketball tonight but find other ways to put an impact on the game. I saw some different things, made some good passes and had one turnover and that's because Joel couldn't catch the basketball.
"All in all, I'm just happy to come out with the win."
Quoted by the Philadelphia Inquirer, Harden reflected on twice getting to 20 assists in games this season. He leads the league with an average of 10.8 assists per game.
"It's an unbelievable franchise, man," Harden said. "They got so many great players that have put on a 76ers jersey. To be added to the list is one of those feelings."
Going over 40 for the 11th time this season— NBA (@NBA) March 7, 2023
Joel Embiid finishes with 42 PTS in the @sixers win on the road! pic.twitter.com/UddGffAIc9