Basketball: Harden turns on the turbo booster

Rockets guard catches fire with career-high 56pts; flagging Cavs slump to Hawks defeat

Houston Rockets' James Harden scoring on a lay-up against the Utah Jazz. The guard could not be contained, with 56 points in just 35 minutes.
Houston Rockets' James Harden scoring on a lay-up against the Utah Jazz. The guard could not be contained, with 56 points in just 35 minutes.PHOTO: REUTERS

LOS ANGELES • James Harden was an unstoppable force, pouring in a career-high 56 points as the Houston Rockets rolled over the visiting Utah Jazz 137-110 on Sunday.

The All-Star guard also had 13 assists and made 19 of 25 shots from the field as he finished just one point shy of the team record of 57 set by Hall of Fame guard Calvin Murphy during the 1977-78 National Basketball Association (NBA) season against New Jersey.

The 28-year-old American missed his final four shot attempts in pursuit of the franchise mark before leaving the game.

"No," he said, when asked if he was aware of the franchise mark. "We won, right?"

Harden, who played only 35 minutes, finished seven-of-eight from three-point range while making 11 of 12 free throws.

With his final basket in the third quarter, he surpassed his previous career high of 53 points.

"To me, what makes him even more difficult is his intelligence as a player," Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. "He's able to recognise situations because he is so talented and sometimes, you don't see the subtleties of his game, his intelligence."



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Houston hit 23 of 39 three-point attempts, with guard Eric Gordon shooting six of 11 from deep while adding 20 points. Trevor Ariza tallied 14 points while making four of eight three-pointers. Nene added 13 off the bench.

All five Utah starters scored in double figures but rookie Donovan Mitchell came off the bench to pace their offence with 17 points.

They darted to a 10-2 lead before the Rockets stormed back behind Harden, who scored 30 first-half points and made his first 10 shots en route to his sixth career 50-point game.

The New York Knicks star Kristaps Porzingis also had a night to remember as he helped his team erase a 19-point deficit to overcome the Indiana Pacers 108-101. The Latvian finished with a career-high 40 points, including 17 in the fourth quarter, as the Knicks (5-4) won for the fifth time in six games.

Porzingis, who added eight rebounds, six blocks and two three-pointers - the first 40-5-5-2 NBA performance since 1983-84 - exploded for 10 points in a five-minute stretch to start the final quarter, which the Knicks entered trailing 72-84.

"I'm very comfortable," he said, according to the New York Post. "I'm seeing a different type of defence almost every night. No matter who I'm playing against, they're trying to be physical with me."

Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek heaped praise on Porzingis. He said: "We figured out a way to get him the ball. He's playing great. On defence, he came in there and got one really good block. Can't argue with the way he's playing."

Elsewhere, the Boston Celtics put on another fine defensive and attacking display to win their eighth straight game with a 104-88 victory over the Orlando Magic.

Second-year guard Jaylen Brown scored a team-high 18 points for Boston, who have compiled the best record in the NBA by allowing the fewest points in the league (99.1 per game).

In Cleveland, Dennis Schroder scored 28 points and the short-handed Atlanta Hawks put the brakes on their eight-game losing streak by beating the Cleveland Cavaliers 117-115.The Hawks, who were without five key players, had not won since their opening night.

The Cavaliers are also struggling and have lost five of their last six games. LeBron James scored 10 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter, Kyle Korver added 23 and Dwyane Wade finished with 25 points.

Kevin Love left in the third quarter because of an illness. He was sent to the Cleveland Clinic where he was treated and then released.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 07, 2017, with the headline 'Harden turns on the turbo booster'. Subscribe