The Houston Rockets haven’t had much to smile about this season. After coming within one game of the NBA Finals a season ago, they’re 13-14 and currently 13th out West. But on Thursday night, James Harden gave fans plenty to smile about.
Not only did his Rockets top LeBron’s Lakers 126-111 on Thursday, but Harden put up a 50-point triple-double in the process. And that’s a significant number as Harden now has four career 50-point triple-doubles, surpassing OKC’s Russell Westbrook for most all-time. It’s also his second 50-point game of the season.
With the win, the Rockets have won two in a row ahead of their road game in Memphis (16-11) tomorrow night. We keep waiting for them to take flight, but something isn’t clicking. The Carmelo Anthony debacle aside, this is a thin team. Losing both Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute via free agency crippled their defense, and it’s clear they still haven’t recovered.
But at least they still have Harden. For the second straight year, he’s leading the league in scoring (30.8 points per game). Last season’s MVP is also averaging 8.3 assists, 5.5 rebounds and 2.0 steals per contest in his seventh season in Houston. He’s knocking down three-pointers at a rate of 37.1 percent as well, his highest mark since 2014-15 (37.5 percent).
If the Rockets are going to get back on track, Harden needs to keep going. Despite all his talent though, it’s clear he cannot do it alone.