Harden scores franchise-record 61 as Rockets nip Knicks

Paul George Kevin Knox

Paul George Kevin Knox

James Harden inched past Wilt Chamberlain and didn't stop his latest one-man show until he'd tied Kobe Bryant.

Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) reacts after the Rockets defeated the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

The Rockets sure needed it.

While the Knicks ultimately lost 114-110, perhaps their biggest issue from last night was the fact that head coach David Fizdale seemingly upset Enes Kanter, who was removed from the starting lineup before the game.

The NBA's reigning MVP and leading scorer notched his fifth 50-point game of the season.

"I want to play basketball". "It was mind-boggling the things we just did. We got the win".

Harden also added 15 rebounds and four assists to his scoring total on the night.

Harden finished 17-of-38 from the floor Wednesday. He was only 5-of-20 on 3-pointers but 22-of-25 from the line, and he grabbed 15 rebounds.

"They couldn't figure out what they wanted to do", he said with a laugh. "But I appreciate them though, honestly".

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"I got to keep going", Harden said.

All of Harden's points in the game were unassisted. He's also scored 30-plus points in 21 straight games. The Knicks led by six at halftime, stayed in it in the fourth and almost stole the game thanks to some boneheaded Rockets play.

In other unbelievable stats, Harden is now averaging 52.2 points in his last five games.

Chamberlain still has all three 30-point streaks that were longer.

Harden's best previous game at the Garden was 36 points but he had that by halftime. D'Antoni said it could be by the end of this week, with the Rockets next playing Friday at home against Toronto.

Knicks coach David Fizdale said Tuesday that he was leaning toward starting Kanter against Houston because of an injury to starting center Luke Kornet.

Embiid, who is expected to be named an all-star starter on Thursday, scored 16 straight points that kept the Sixers in the game. Harden then hit two free throws to give the Rockets a 109-108 lead with 29.9 seconds to go, after which Allonzo Trier responded with a driving layup to put the Knicks back in front 110-109 with 20 ticks left.

As always, the New York Knicks started well but continued poorly in the second half. Exactly a week later, Bryant scored his 61 points in a Lakers victory on February 2.

Kanter expressed his frustration with the decision after Monday's game and was even more aggravated by Wednesday's DNP. But, when this potential two-time MVP just thrashes NY from start to finish, clearly as the best player on the floor that receives foul calls at will, there's only so much that can be done.

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