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 3-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 3-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 and 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 3-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 No. 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 percent 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 3-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 Wednesday.
With the win, the third-placed Rockets move to 46-27 on the season, giving them a one game lead over the Portland Trail Blazers.