NBA: Imperious James Harden ties Hakeem Olajuwon's mark

James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets brings the ball down court against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Centre on Dec 2, 2016.
James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets brings the ball down court against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Centre on Dec 2, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

Guard enjoys 14th career triple-double as Rockets hammer Kings for 8th straight win

HOUSTON • James Harden matched the franchise record for career triple-doubles to lead the Houston Rockets to a 132-98 National Basketball Association victory over the short-handed Sacramento Kings on Wednesday.

The shooting guard finished with 15 points, 14 assists and 11 rebounds to post his 14th career triple-double and equal the mark set by Hall of Fame centre Hakeem Olajuwon.

The 27-year-old needed only 30 minutes to deliver his fifth triple-double of the season in front of a crowd of 15,000 at the Rockets' Toyota Centre.

And the Rockets produced a season-high 40 assists on 50 field goals, their most since February 1995. "Everybody is getting shots, everybody is scoring... Everybody is happy," Harden said.

The Rockets improved to 19-7 on the season and won their eighth consecutive game.

Houston also flirted with the NBA record for three-pointers, hitting 22 of 42 from behind the arc while cruising to the win.

They extended their league record for consecutive games with at least 10 three-pointers at the 7min 13sec mark of the second quarter on a three from Sam Dekker.

Forward Ryan Anderson led all five Houston starters in double figures with 22 points. He was four for seven from three-point range.

The Kings (9-16) lost for the sixth time in eight games and played without centre DeMarcus Cousins (rest), forward Rudy Gay (hip) and guard Ben McLemore (quad).

Four starters reached double figures in points, paced by guard Garret Temple, who scored 20 and was five for nine from long range.

Cousins was given the night off to rest. He had started all 24 games for Sacramento this season and entered Wednesday's game leading the team in scoring (28.3 points), rebounding (10.9) and blocks (1.5), while ranking fourth in assists (3.6).

Kings coach Dave Joerger opted to rest him so that he could enjoy a three-day break between games on Monday (a home win over the Lakers) and today in Memphis.

In Texas, Kawhi Leonard scored 26 points as the San Antonio Spurs held on for a 108-101 win over the Boston Celtics at the AT&T Centre.

Pau Gasol added 17 points and grabbed 13 rebounds while Tony Parker finished with 16 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter, to help the hosts withstand a Celtics comeback try.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 16, 2016, with the headline 'Imperious Harden ties mark'. Print Edition | Subscribe