Thu, Feb 01, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Harden makes history as Rockets win

SHORTHANDED:‘The Beard’ scored 60 points in his triple-double on a night Houston started without Chris Paul and Trevor Ariza, and lost Eric Gordon early in the second

AP, HOUSTON, Texas

The Houston Rockets’ James Harden, right, drives to the basket past the Orlando Magic’s Elfrid Payton in their NBA game in Houston, Texas, on Tuesday.

Photo: AP

James Harden on Tuesday night became the first player in NBA history to score 60 points as part of a triple-double as the short-handed Houston Rockets beat the Orlando Magic 114-107.

Harden scored 18 points in the fourth quarter to eclipse the 57 points Calvin Murphy scored in 1978 to break Houston’s single-game scoring record.

After Harden broke the record, cameras in the arena showed a shot of Murphy, who works on the TV broadcast team, smiling and clapping for “The Beard,” who also had 10 rebounds and 11 assists.

The game was tied 107-107 after a basket by Marreese Speights with just less than four minutes to play. Neither team scored for more than two minutes after that before Harden took over, scoring the next six points to make it 113-107 with 45 seconds left.

He set the scoring mark when he stepped back and made a three-pointer before crashing to the court after being fouled by Mario Hezonja. He then made the free throw to give him 60 points and bringing the crowd to its feet.

Harden, who also had four steals and a block, grabbed his 10th rebound a few seconds later to give him his third triple-double this season. He made 17 of 18 free throws and was 19 of 30 from the floor with five three-pointers.

Hezonja and Speights scored 17 points each for the Magic, who dropped their third straight.

The Rockets started the game without Chris Paul, who has a sore groin, and Trevor Ariza, who is dealing with a strained hamstring.

They lost another player when Eric Gordon, who is second on the team in scoring with 19.5 points per game, left early in the second quarter with lower back stiffness.

Harden’s big night came as he played a season-high 46 minutes, 26 seconds with Houston missing so many players.

It was his fourth 50-point game this season and Tuesday’s performance bested his previous career-high of 56 points set in November last year against Utah.

Orlando led by two points with about nine-and-a-half minutes left before the Rockets used a 10-4 run to make it 101-97 with about seven minutes to go.

Harden had two three-pointers in that stretch and wowed the crowd on the second, which came as the shot clock was about to expire and with Shelvin Mack right in his face.

However, Houston did not lead for long, as Speights was fouled while making a three-pointer and added the free throw to tie it seconds later.

The Magic had a two-point lead with about five-and-a-half minutes left before Houston used a 6-2 run, with all of their points from Harden, to take a 107-105 lead with about four minutes left.

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