Historic night for Harden in Rockets’ win

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LOS ANGELES: James Harden became the first player in NBA history to record a 60-point triple double as the short-handed Houston Rockets defeated the Orlando Magic 114-107 on Tuesday night (Wednesday in Manila).

The 60 points were also a franchise single game record as he surpassed Calvin Murphy, who scored 57 points in 1978. Murphy was in attendance at the game as a member of the Rockets’ Root Sports television broadcasting crew.

He reached the 60-point milestone with a four-point play, stepping back and draining a three pointer while being fouled by Mario Hezonja. Harden then made the free throw as the crowd rose to its feet. Murphy smiled and clapped as his scoring mark fell by the wayside.

“Tonight I was ultra aggressive,” said Harden. “I was in attack mode.”


James Harden AFP PHOTO

Harden collected his 10th rebound just moments later to earn his third triple double this season. He made 17 of 18 free throws and was 19 of 30 from the field with five baskets from beyond the arc. He also had four steals and one block.

Harden scored 18 points in the final quarter to record his ninth career 50-point game.

“I was so locked in and focused on how I could impact the game. Even the coach talking, I couldn’t hear him at all,” Harden said.

“It feels like any other NBA game other than I was trying to put the team on my back.

“I was just aggressive. It was a much needed win for us.”

NBA players took to social media to congratulate Harden.

“C’mon @JHarden13!!! Now that’s insane G! 60 point Triple Dub. Sheesh!!” wrote Cleveland Cavaliers LeBron James.

Murphy tweeted, “Congratulations to @JHarden13 for breaking my record. I’ve been honored to hold the #Rockets single game scoring record for 40 years. James you are a class act!”

The previous NBA high for a triple double was 57 points by both Michael Jordan in December 1992 and Russell Westbrook in March.

Unaware of record
“I had 50, 52, 53 a couple of times. I didn’t know what the record was,” said Harden.

Harden, who grew up in south Los Angeles near where the tennis’ Williams sisters come from, was picked to play in the 2018 All-Star Game in his hometown on February 18.

“If I could do that there that’s for sure the MVP. Hopefully I can put on a show there like I did tonight,” he said.

The game was tied 107-107 after a basket by Marreese Speights with just under four minutes to play. Neither team scored for more than two minutes after that, until Harden seized command, scoring six straight points to make it 113-107 with 45 seconds left.

“Amazing and topped it off with a four-point play at the end,” coach Mike D’Antoni said. “But we had to have every minute from him.”

The Rockets began the contest without Chris Paul (sore groin), and Trevor Ariza (strained hamstring). Eric Gordon exited early in the second quarter with lower back stiffness.

“I looked at coach and said: ‘Eric can’t go,’” Harden said “He said ‘go get ‘em’ and after that I didn’t come out of the game.”

AFP

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