Basketball

Harden’s record powers Rockets

Guard Harden posts 14th career triple-double to equal mark set by Rockets great Hakeem Olajuwon

NBA
HOUSTON ROCKETS SACRAMENTO KINGS
132 98

James Harden matched the franchise record for career triple-doubles to lead the Houston Rockets to a dominating 132-98 victory over the shorthanded Sacramento Kings yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Harden finished with 15 points, 14 assists and 11 rebounds to post his 14th career triple-double and equal the mark set by NBA Hall of Fame centre Hakeem Olajuwon.

Harden was still a seven-year-old kid when Olajuwon notched the last of those triple-doubles in 1997.

"He's an all-time Rockets great, the best to ever do it and put on a Rockets uniform," Harden said.

"He's one of the best to play basketball, period. It's an honour. Credit to my teammates and coaches for helping me - just trying to win, that's all."

Harden needed only 30 minutes to deliver his fifth triple-double of the season in front of a crowd of 15,000 at the Rockets' Toyota Center arena.

And the home team produced a season-high 40 assists on 50 field goals, their most since Feb 1995, and improved to 19-7 with their eighth consecutive win.

"Everybody is getting shots, everybody is scoring the basketball. Everybody is happy," Harden said.

Houston also flirted with the NBA record for three-pointers, hitting 22 of 42 from behind the arc - just one shy of tying the league record for most in a regular-season game.

The vociferous crowd certainly did their best to encourage the team to break the mark, although Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni didn't think his players heard or realised what was going on.

He said: "It didn't seem like it. They just needed to play good basketball and we shoot threes.

"If we did it, we did it. But not to do it for that reason, but to play well. The biggest thing I'm happy with is we had 40 assists on 50 buckets, so they're sharing the ball.

MOST INFLUENTIAL FIGURE

"Patrick (Beverley) again giving us a little extra at the point guard. What he does and obviously James does… Every night, just a lot of good stuff going on."

The way they are playing, forward Ryan Anderson feels that it is just a matter of time before they clinch the three-pointer record.

"It's going to happen this season," said Anderson, who was four for seven from three-point range.

"I really feel like it will. We get so many good looks up.

"I didn't even feel we were shooting that ridiculously well.

"We have so many weapons, so many guys who can shoot it."

Anderson led all five Houston starters in double figures with 22 points, while forward Trevor Ariza finished five-for-seven from beyond the arc.

But, to point guard Beverley, it is clear who the most influential figure in the team was.

Of Harden, Beverley said: "He's the best player in the league. The best playmaker in the league.

"This year he came in with a different focus, a leadership role. He deserves a lot of credit for our success." - AFP

OTHER RESULTS

San Antonio 108 Boston 101, Utah 109 Oklahoma City 89, Dallas 85 Detroit 95, Memphis 93 Cleveland 85, Brooklyn 107 LA Lakers 97, Philadelphia 114 Toronto 123, Washington 109 Charlotte 106, Orlando 108 LA Clippers 113, Miami 95 Indiana 89

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