James Harden continues to add to his MVP case with another ridiculous scoring outburst, leading the Houston Rockets to a 111-105 win over the San Antonio Spurs.
Harden poured in a career-high 61 points, seven rebounds and one assist, tying his effort against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden earlier this season. He now has three career 60-point games, tying Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Elgin Baylor as the only players in NBA history with three or more career 60-point games.
His 61 came on 19-of-34 shooting from the field, 9-of-13 from the three-point line and 14-of-17 at the free throw line. In the process, Harden moved into 10th place on the NBA's all-time three-pointers made list, passing Joe Johnson.
James Harden has his 3rd career 60-point game, tying Elgin Baylor for 4th-most in NBA history.- ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 23, 2019
Only Wilt Chamberlain, Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan have more. pic.twitter.com/AyZlPjv8K9
Harden was in the zone from the jump, exploding for 27 points in the first quarter, the most he's ever scored in a single quarter, tying him with Brooklyn Nets point guard D'Angelo Russell for the most points scored in a single quarter so far this season.
Harden shot 7-for-10 in the opening quarter, 3-for-4 from the three-point line and 10-for-12 from the free throw line.
2⃣7⃣ points for Harden in the 1st Q!#Rockets 36#GoSpursGo 24- NBA (@NBA) March 23, 2019
📱💻: https://t.co/cb8TXyNer6 pic.twitter.com/P5J538KSK5
He finished with 37 points for the half as the Rockets estabished a 62-47 lead.
San Antonio came out of the break with a renewed defensive energy, trapping Harden on the perimeter as they tried to force the ball out of his hands. While #13 kept finding ways to score, his teammates struggled to get going and by the end of the third quarter, Harden's teammates combined to shoot just 14-of-43 from the field.
The Spurs outscored the Rockets 34-19 in the third quarter, shooting a sizzling 59.1% from the field, entering the fourth quarter tied at 81-81.
With the Spurs leading 100-94 with 4:13 remaining in the fourth, Harden found an extra gear, going on a personal 13-2 run, knocking down back-to-back-to-back three-pointers to swing the game back in Houston's favour.
That moment #13 went on a 13-0 run 🔥 pic.twitter.com/J1jEi5mHxN- Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) March 23, 2019
After Harden's outburst, the Rockets took a 107-102 lead with 1:25 left, hanging on to seal the W in front of a raucous Toyota Center crowd.
Harden has now scored 118 points over his past two games, after dropping 57 points in a close loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday.
With the win, the third-placed Rockets move to 46-27 on the season, giving them a 1.0 game lead over the Portland Trail Blazers.