James Harden scored a franchise-record 60 points while posting a triple-double, almost singlehandedly carrying the short-handed Houston Rockets to a 114-107 victory over the visiting Orlando Magic on Tuesday night at Toyota Center.
Harden shot 19 of 30 from the floor and 17 of 18 at the line while adding 10 rebounds and 11 assists. With Houston missing three rotation players, Harden logged a season-high 46 minutes.
His 60-point triple-double was the first in NBA history.
With the game deadlocked at 107-107, Harden nailed a step-back jumper with just under two minutes left before drilling a 3-pointer through a Mario Hezonja foul with 45.4 seconds to play. Harden completed the four-point play to surpass Calvin Murphy (57 points) in franchise annals.
Already missing Trevor Ariza (hamstring) and Chris Paul (groin), the Rockets lost guard Eric Gordon to lower back stiffness early in the second quarter. That facilitated the need for Harden to absorb the heavy minutes workload, and despite the stress, he managed to carry the offense.
Orlando hung tough by placing six in double figures. Hezonja and Marreese Speights scored 17 points apiece while Jonathon Simmons and Shelvin Mack added 15 each. D.J. Augustin scored 13 off the bench and Evan Fournier had 12 for Orlando, which shot a robust 15 of 31 from 3-point range.
Orlando initially rode Fournier on offense, as he tallied 10 points in the first quarter including back-to-back 3-pointers that helped the Magic erase an early five-point deficit. The Magic finished 4 of 8 from behind the arc in the opening period, with Augustin and Speights adding treys down the stretch to lift Orlando to a 30-27 lead entering the second quarter.
When Harden returned at the 10:26 mark of the second, with Gordon departing for good, the All-Star’s mission was clear. Orlando pushed its lead to five points only for Harden to fashion repeated responses. He put Houston ahead 51-50 with a driving layup with just under three minutes left in the half, and after Orlando carried a 55-54 lead into the intermission, Harden opened the third with a three-point play to put the Rockets back on top.
--Field Level Media