WATCH: Harden sustains hot streak, Antetokounmpo hits triple-double
LOS ANGELES, USA – James Harden recorded his third straight 40-point game to power the Houston Rockets to a 108-104 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans in the NBA on Saturday, December 29 (Sunday, December 30, Manila time).
Harden finished with 41 points and 6 assists to become the first player since Oscar Robertson to post at least 35 points and 5 assists in 7 straight games. Robertson did it twice in 1965 and 1967.
"That's what I play for," Harden said when asked about being compared to Robertson. "That's what you play the game of basketball for, to be mentioned in the name with the greats.
"Obviously, I have a long way to go, but that's what I put my jersey on for, that's what I lace my shoes up for, to go out there and be the best that I can be and when it's all said and done, be mentioned as one of the best basketball players to ever touch a basketball."
Harden scored 17 points in the 1st quarter and made all 14 of his free throws during the game. He drained 7-of-16 shots from beyond the arc.
Harden scored 26 points in the 1st half as Houston took a 53-50 lead into the locker room.
Pelicans star Anthony Davis struggled after scoring a season-high 48 points in a victory over Dallas, taking only 5 shots in the 1st half. Julius Randle led the Pelicans with 23 points and 11 rebounds. Davis finished with 22.
Houston led 77-76 after 3 and scored the first 7 points of the 4th period. The Rockets extended their lead to 101-86 with just under 6 minutes left, but the Pelicans went on a 13-2 run to cut the deficit to 103-99.
PJ Tucker made two free throws with 12 seconds remaining in the 4th to seal the win.
Harden will get a chance to score 40 in 4 straight when the Rockets host Memphis on Monday.
Elsewhere, Giannis Antetokounmpo posted his third triple-double of the season as the league-leading Milwaukee Bucks won their third straight game with a 129-115 victory over the Brooklyn Nets.
Antetokounmpo finished with 31 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for the Bucks, who improved to 25-10 on the season.
"He was phenomenal in the last 5 minutes," Milwaukee coach Mike Budenholzer said.
"It’s amazing...It’s not easy being the number one team in the East." pic.twitter.com/hY4dSIesuQ— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) December 30, 2018
Khris Middleton played through the pain of a quad injury to score 29 points and Brook Lopez added 24 points on 7-of-15 shooting from beyond the arc.
Lopez drained 5-of-9 from the arc in the 1st half to help open up a 19-point halftime lead for the Bucks, who have won 7 of 8 contests.
The Bucks compiled a 15-point lead with just over 3 minutes left in the 4th with the help of 6 consecutive baskets by Antetokounmpo.
"That's what a superstar does. When it's crunch time, when it's time to close a game out – he did it," Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said of Antetokounmpo.
Brooklyn, which was already missing 6 players because of injuries, lost forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson with a groin injury in the 1st half. – Rappler.com