NEW YORK: James Harden showed his versa-tility by making a smooth transition from shooting to point guard with his second double-double in as many nights as the Houston Rockets beat the New York Knicks 118-99 on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila).
Filling in for Patrick Beverley, who is recovering from knee surgery, Harden was spectacular in his new role.
He tallied 30 points and 15 assists to lead the Rockets at Madison Square Garden. Harden had 41 points and 15 assists in a 128-120 loss at Cleveland on Tuesday.
Harden said he feels more in command in his new position.
“I’m able to control the game a lot more,” Harden said. “I’m able to advance passes, guys are running out, guys are prepared to shoot the ball.
“It is a variety of things where I can get the ball to guys a lot easier. We have so many offensive weapons that it makes my job a lot easier. I just have to pick my spots and make the right play.”
Harden entered the game leading the league in assists with 11.8 per game.
That is exactly what Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni had hoped to get from Harden this early in the season.
“(Harden) threw some passes that were ridiculous,” D’Antoni said. “He hit some timely shots at the end of quarters. He played really well.”
The all-star guard connected on five of 12 three-point attempts as Houston shot 39.5 percent from beyond the arc.
Eric Gordon added 21 points, and second-year pro Montrezl Harrell matched his career high with 17 points and grabbed a career-high 10 rebounds.
The Knicks (1-3) have given up at least 30 points in eight of their 16 quarters this season.
Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks with 21 points, and Derrick Rose and Courtney Lee added 16 points apiece.