LOS ANGELES, USA – James Harden scored 27 points in the 1st quarter and matched his career-best of 61 as the Houston Rockets rallied late to beat the San Antonio Spurs, 111-105, in the NBA on Friday, March 22 (Saturday, March 23, Manila time).
The 29-year-old NBA scoring leader equaled his career-high total which he set earlier this season at Madison Square Garden and scored more than 50 points for the eighth time this season.
“I work every single day to be the best I can be,” Harden said. “I got a chance to be one of the best players to ever touch a basketball. As a kid that’s what you dream about.”
During the 4th quarter, Harden scored all of the Rockets points in a 13-2 burst. Late in the game he nailed 3 straight three pointers to give the Rockets a 103-100 lead.
Harden finished 9-of-13 from beyond the arc and shot 19-of-34 from the floor. He took 17 free throw attempts, missing just 3 for the Rockets, who have won 8 of their last 9 games at home.
Harden went into a scoring lull and San Antonio rallied from a 15 point halftime deficit to tie the game 81-81 at the end of the 3rd. The Spurs led by 6 points with 4 minutes remaining in the 4th before Harden took control again.
“I am always in that zone,” he said. “I got a conscious in the back my head to get my teammates involved.
“I was trying to figure out a way to get them shots and get them going a little bit because at the end of the day I am going to need them.
“In the 4th quarter I had to be aggressive and take my shots.”
This season for @JHarden13…— NBA (@NBA) March 23, 2019
4th player to record at least 8 games of 50+ PTS
2nd player to record at least 6 games of 55+ PTS
4th player to record multiple games of 60+ PTS
… making @NBAHistory. #Rockets pic.twitter.com/oqBZz7S4go
Harden came out strong from the opening tip off as he made 7-of-10 from the field, including 3-of-4 three-pointers in the opening quarter.
His 27 points in the quarter were the second-most in franchise history, trailing only Vernon Maxwell’s 30 in 1991.
While other NBA stars like LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard have decided to cut back on their playing time late in the season, Harden says the thought of doing something similar never crossed his mind.
“I am a hooper, I am hooper. I love to hoop,” Harden said. “I know hooping isn’t going to be here forever.
“So I love to get out there and compete. The best days are when the legs are a little tired and the shot isn’t falling cause you got to figure out ways to get through it. I love going out there and competing.”
Bryn Forbes led San Antonio with 20 points, while Derrick White added 18 and DeMar DeRozan had 16.