HOUSTON • James Harden recorded a 53-point triple-double while Ryan Anderson played a capable second fiddle as the Houston Rockets beat the New York Knicks 129-122 in the National Basketball Association (NBA) on Saturday night at Toyota Centre.
Harden finished with a career-high 53 points, 16 rebounds and a career-high-tying 17 assists to carry the Rockets (26-9) through another lackadaisical defensive effort.
According to Elias Sport Bureau, Harden is the first player to have more than 50 points, 15 assists and 15 rebounds in an NBA game.
"When I look at it, it is unbelievable," Harden said of his performance. "This season so far has been unbelievable. The chemistry, the wins feel really, really good. Just the vibe around here helps for us to go out on the court and have fun with each other."
Houston matched their franchise record for wins in a month (15) set in November 1996, while sending the Knicks (16-17) to a fourth consecutive loss.
JAMES HARDEN'S 53-POINT TRIPLE-DOUBLE
Anderson added 25 points and six rebounds for the Rockets, who led by as many as 19 points yet were in a battle down the stretch when the Knicks cut the deficit to three points multiple times in the fourth quarter.
Houston reeled off a 7-0 spurt to seize control for good, capped by a Trevor Ariza lay-up.
The Knicks were without starters Kristaps Porzingis and Courtney Lee as well as reserve forward Kyle O'Quinn.
Forward Carmelo Anthony did not return for the second half, succumbing to a sore knee.
Guard Brandon Jennings filled in admirably, scoring 32 points and adding seven assists.
Derrick Rose paired 21 points with seven assists while centre Joakim Noah had 15 points and 16 rebounds.
Justin Holiday and Mindaugas Kuzminskas combined for 29 points off the Knicks bench.
Jennings had only praises for Harden after the game.
"It was like NBA 2K numbers," he told reporters, comparing Harden's outstanding performance to the video game.
"I just told him afterward to just go and get the MVP (Most Valuable Player) and keep balling and doing what he's doing."
Rockets owner Leslie Alexander was also thrilled by what he saw from the All-Star guard.
"He's one of the great players of all time. He ranks right up there with the best," he told ESPN.
"I mean, nobody has ever done this before."