Harden earns 50pt triple-double, Porzingis in rape probe

HOUSTON • Another National Basketball Association game, another record-breaking night for James Harden.

The Houston Rockets fended off the Sacramento Kings for a 119-108 victory on Saturday as the reigning Most Valuable Player extended his 50-point career triple-doubles to five - two more than second-placed Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

His performance - 50 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists - was not the only achievement of the night after also becoming the ninth player in league history to notch 2,000 career three-pointers.

Harden was his customary nonchalant self post-game, insisting that he "just tried to be aggressive, whether it was making an assist or getting to the basket or shooting my shot".

However, Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni took a different view, hailing his latest feat as "remarkable".

He said: "He does it every night. I keep thinking, 'Gosh, can he do this every game?'. And then he does it for three years."

Sacramento guard Buddy Hield, who had 21 points at the Toyota Centre as the Kings were officially eliminated from play-off contention, also admitted facing Harden "gives everybody fits".

Rockets centre Clint Capela grabs a rebound against Kings forward Marvin Bagley in the game Houston won 119-108.
Rockets centre Clint Capela grabs a rebound against Kings forward Marvin Bagley in the game Houston won 119-108. PHOTO: REUTERS

He told USA Today's Rockets Wire blog: "He's a good player, the MVP of the league. Everybody respects him, he's a tough match-up for everybody. He had it going and that's what he does every night."

Yet while Harden earned most of the praise, D'Antoni also felt that the win would not have been possible had Clint Capela not contributed 24 points and pulled down 15 rebounds.

Calling the centre "key for us", he added: He's been good all the time. He's probably undervalued."

Elsewhere, the New York Post reported on Saturday that Dallas Mavericks star Kristaps Porzingis was being investigated after being accused of raping a woman last year.

The tabloid, citing unnamed law enforcement sources, claimed that the woman, who used to be his neighbour, had told police last week about the alleged assault in February last year.

Despite waiting more than 13 months to report the incident, the accuser, who said she did not come forward sooner because she had discussed getting US$68,000 (S$92,170) from Porzingis to keep mum about the incident, is considered to be "believable".

But the Latvia centre's lawyer, Roland Riopelle, has rejected the accusation, labelling it as "extortionate demands".

A statement issued to ESPN read: "We are aware of the complaint that was made against Mr Porzingis on Friday and unequivocally deny the allegations. We made a formal referral to federal law enforcement on Dec 20, 2018."

Porzingis was traded from the New York Knicks to the Mavericks on Jan 31 and has yet to play this season after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament injury in February last year.

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told the Post in an e-mail that while the team were aware of the allegation, they "have been instructed by federal authorities not to comment".

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 01, 2019, with the headline 'Harden earns 50pt triple-double, Porzingis in rape probe'. Print Edition | Subscribe