Harden's 50-point triple-double fuels Rockets over Kings
LOS ANGELES, USA – James Harden's 50-point triple-double powered the Houston Rockets to a 119-108 NBA victory over the Sacramento Kings on Saturday, March 30 (Sunday, March 31, Manila time).
Harden, the reigning NBA Most Valuable Player, scored 50 points, pulled down 11 rebounds and handed out 10 assists as the playoff-bound Rockets fended off a Kings squad that was officially eliminated from post-season contention with the defeat.
Harden had his 42nd career triple-double and his NBA record fifth with 50 or more points.
"I just tried to be aggressive, whether it was making assists or into the basket," said Harden.
It was his third 50-point game in the last 6 and his 7 three-pointers saw him become the ninth player in league history to reach 2,000 career three-pointers.
The Rockets needed every bit of that output to put away a Kings team fighting for their playoff lives.
Harden, who scored 31 points in the first half, scored 12 points in the final 6 minutes as the Rockets came back from a 93-91 deficit heading into the 4th quarter.
A 7-2 spurt from Houston saw the Rockets take a 98-95 lead, and it was nip-and-tuck until Harden scored all 10 points in a 10-2 Rockets run that gave them a 111-102 lead with 3:13 remaining.
From there the Kings wouldn't get the deficit below 7 points, as the Rockets turned the defensive screws – limiting Sacramento to 15 points in the final frame.
Harden said the defensive effort was crucial – and something the Rockets must cultivate for a deep playoff run.
"Obviously, this is the NBA and teams are going to make shots," he said. "But when it's time to get stops, we do a really good job of that. That's something we can hang our hat on."
Point guard Chris Paul added 22 points and Clint Capela chipped in 24 points with 15 rebounds for the Rockets, who improved to 49-28 and edged into 3rd place in the Western Conference when the Portland Trail Blazers lost 99-90 to the Detroit Pistons to fall to 48-28.
"This was a much-needed win," Rockets guard Eric Gordon said. "You know we're trying to win the rest of these games for the rest of the year. Just try to build championship habits and just try to win every game."
With Sacramento's elimination all 8 Western Conference playoff teams were confirmed, with the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder – both idle Saturday – the last two to clinch. – Rappler.com