Harden vows to improve despite another triple-double

HOUSTON (Texas) • While Houston Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni and his players were in awe of James Harden's latest heroics on Monday night, the point guard merely reflected on his display and insisted that he could have done better.

Not even a 43-point triple-double to lead the Rockets to a 113-101 National Basketball Association (NBA) victory over the Memphis Grizzlies was enough for him.

"I did a poor job of controlling the basketball, basically giving them transition points," said Harden, who had nine turnovers.

"I have to take care of the ball more, but just continue to be aggressive and make plays for my team."

The reigning Most Valuable Player added 13 assists and 10 rebounds for his fourth triple-double of the season and the 39th of his career.

His eighth straight game with at least 35 points and five assists set an NBA record - topping Oscar Robertson's two seven-game streaks.

He is also the first player since Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook two seasons ago to record four consecutive 40-point outings.

The Rockets, who made a sputtering start to the season, won for the 10th time in their last 11 games to improve to 21-15.

Harden has averaged 39.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, 8.5 assists and 2.1 steals during that run.

Houston are now tied with the Los Angeles Clippers for fourth place in the Western Conference less than three weeks after they were in 14th, with Harden putting up 408 points in his past 10 games.

According to statistics provided by the Elias Sports Bureau, he has joined Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant as the only players in the past three decades to score at least 400 points over a 10-game stretch.

"What he's doing is incredible," Rockets guard Austin Rivers said.

"What he's doing is a Kobe. He's doing it so effortlessly. It's not like he's forcing it or shooting the ball every time. He's just different."

Injured teammate Chris Paul, on the sidelines for a fifth straight game, added: "It's crazy to watch the games and to witness it. What he's doing is unreal."

D'Antoni said: "I don't know how you get any better than what he's playing. He comes up with steals, triple-doubles like it's nothing."

Harden did not forget to pay tribute to his teammates.

"I'm just being aggressive. I'm just in attack mode," he said.

"But, offensively and defensively, the guys are stepping up. We've got a long way to go, but we're heading in the right direction."

Memphis (18-18) fell to their 10th loss in 15 games last month. Kyle Anderson led them with 20 points while Mike Conley added 19.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 02, 2019, with the headline 'Harden vows to improve despite another triple-double'. Print Edition | Subscribe