Harden's 50-point triple-double fuels Rockets over Kings
Los Angeles (AFP)
James Harden's 50-point triple-double powered the Houston Rockets to a 119-108 NBA victory over the Sacramento Kings on Saturday.
Harden, the reigning NBA Most Valuable Player, scored 50 points, pulled down 11 rebounds and handed out 10 assists as the playoff-bound Rockets fended off a Kings squad that was officially eliminated from post-season contention with the defeat.
Harden had his 42nd career triple-double and his NBA record fifth with 50 or more points.
It was his third 50-point game in the last six and his seven three-pointers saw him become the ninth player in league history to reach 2,000 career three-pointers.
The Rockets needed every bit of that output to put away a Kings team fighting for their playoff lives.
Harden, who scored 31 points in the first half, scored 12 points in the final six minutes as the Rockets came back from a 93-91 deficit heading into the fourth quarter.
A 7-2 spurt from Houston saw the Rockets take a 98-95 lead, and it was nip-and-tuck until Harden scored all 10 points in a 10-2 Rockets run that gave them a 111-102 lead with 3:13 remaining.
From there the Kings wouldn't get the deficit below seven points, as the Rockets turned the defensive screws -- limiting Sacramento to 15 points in the final frame.
Point guard Chris Paul added 22 points and Clint Capela chipped in 24 points with 15 rebounds for the Rockets, who improved to 49-28 as they continue to duel with the Portland Trail Blazers for third seed in the Western Conference.
The Blazers took a 48-27 record into their later game with the Detroit Pistons.
With Sacramento's elimination all eight Western Conference playoff teams were confirmed, with the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder berths the last to be secured.
? 2019 AFP