As James Harden declared again that he believed the current Rockets were the best since he moved to Houston and that "this is the year," it was clear that the 13-game winning streak the Rockets brought into Wednesday's game had not made him change his mind.

The Rockets have made no secret about their confidence in their championship aspirations. Harden's slightly more ambiguous, though still clear declaration in an ESPN interview on Tuesday ranked only as their latest claim that they are worthy challengers to the Warriors' reign and believe they can win a postseason series, as they have the regular-season series.

The idea, however, drives more than conversation. The Rockets have cited their pursuit of a championship for everything from a determination to improve a team that already has the league's best record to their acceptance of diminished roles as general manager Daryl Morey adds players for Mike D'Antoni to squeeze into his rotation.

In some ways, that is to be expected. If the Rockets held the NBA's best record but did not think they could win a championship that would be more newsworthy than them continuing to like their chances. Heading into Wednesday's game against the Clippers, they needed only to go 12-10 the rest of the season to have the best record in franchise history. A win in Los Angeles would have made them just the sixth team in NBA history to have two 14-game winning streaks in the same season.