NBA Daily Rundown: Harden Heats Up For 60 In Three Quarters

NBA Daily Rundown: Harden Heats Up For 60 In Three Quarters

Harden’s 60-point night pushes Rockets past struggling Hawks

James Harden again showed off his extraordinary scoring prowess as he propelled the Houston Rockets to a massive 158-111 beatdown of the slumping Atlanta Hawks. Harden had himself a 60-point outing, needing just three quarters to tally that incredible individual offensive performance. The Beard waxed hot from three-point territory with eight treys, while also hitting 20 of his 23 trips to the foul line. On top of that, Harden also dished out 8 assists and stole the ball three times. Ben McLemore reinforced the Rockets with his own double-double night of 24 points and 13 rebounds, while Russell Westbrook tallied an all-around stat line of 15 points, 8 boards and 8 assists.

The Rockets raced to an 81-52 lead after the first half, and a tremendous 46-point showing in the third quarter pushed their lead to 54. Houston didn’t need to field in their best player in the payoff period, but Harden already amassed 60 markers before the quarter even started. When asked if he wanted to play in regulation to further increase his points total, Harden emphasized that it was time for their reserves to show off what they can do, as per the Associated Press.

"Yeah, I was playing with the fans a little, but honestly I didn't know. But we played  a really good game those first three quarters, so it was an opportunity for other guys to play minutes that they've earned."

Sophomore point guard Trae Young topscored for the Hawks with 37 points and 7 assists, but he was the lone bright spot for the losing squad. Atlanta now stumbles to a disappointing 4-16 record. They extender their losing streak to 10 games, and have now lost 13 of their last 14 games. Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce reiterates that his team did everything it can to hold off Harden, but The Beard was just too hot to handle.

"We try to do what we have to do against James, which is throw a lot of bodies at him. Try and put him under duress. He just didn't feel us."

The Hawks will try to arrest their losing skid when they face the Golden State Warriors on Monday. On the other hand, the Rockets will travel to San Antonio on Tuesday to go up against LaMarcus Aldridge and the Spurs.

Kings earn hard-fought overtime win over visiting Nuggets

The Sacramento Kings put on a brilliant defensive performance as they defeated Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets, 100-97. Harrison Barnes led the team in scoring with 30 points, while Buddy Hield produced 21 points and 7 rebounds. Richaun Holmes had 13 points and 10 rebounds as the Kings notch their 8thwin of the young season.

It actually looked like the Nuggets were in control of the game as they led by 17 points after two quarters. However, Sacramento’s defense clamped down on the visiting team in the second half as they limited the Nuggets to below the 20-point mark in the third and fourth quarter. The Kings were able to force overtime, and the last play of the game summarized their brilliant defense in the second half. With Denver trailing by three points, Nuggets combo guard Jamal Murray got trapped in the baseline with nowhere to go as he never got off a shot as time expired.

The victory ended the Kings two-game skid and improved their record to 8 wins against 10 losses. This is a morale-boosting win for a team missing the services of their two key starters, De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley III.

Gary Harris topscored for the Nuggets with 25 points, 3 rebounds and 3 steals, and Murray contributed 15 points and 6 assists. Star center Nikola Jokic had 10 rebounds and 6 assists, but also had a quiet scoring night of only 7 markers. Nuggets head coach Mike Malone praised Sacramento’s defensive schemes, per Alex Labidou of

"They played well, give them credit. They played good defense and turned up the  pressure and we didn't handle it well."

This three-point overtime loss snapped the team’s six-game winning streak and dropped them to a 13-4 record. The Nuggets will have two days of rest as they get ready for a Western Conference powerhouse match-up against LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday.

Embiid puts up 32 and 11 in win against Indiana

The Philadelphia 76ers banked on a double-double night from Joel Embiid as they hacked out a close-call 119-116 win over the Indiana Pacers. Embiid produced a game-high 32 points, to go along with his 11 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals. Tobias Harris chipped in 22 markers, while Ben Simmons had himself an all-around stat line of 15 points, 13 assists, 6 boards and 4 steals.

It was a tough and gritty win for the Sixers, who won a see-saw affair against the similarly tough-minded Pacers team. The Sixers had plenty of contributions on this one as all their starters logged in double-digit scoring. However, Sixers head coach Brett Brown paid extra attention to how Simmons carried himself on the defensive end, per Kevin F. Love of the SB Nation’s Liberty Ballers.

“The plays that he can make from an athletic standpoint and the plays he can make from a physical standpoint [late] in the game, are just elite. You hear me cheer-lead the cause of him being on an NBA All-Defensive team and it’s examples like that [late   steal] that make it a no-brainer.”

Scoring combo forward T.J. Warren led the charge for the Pacers with 29 markers, while Malcolm Brogdon netted 28 points, 4 boards and 6 assists. Domantas Sabonis had his own double-double performance of 13 points, 10 boards and 5 assists, but also incurred five turnovers in the loss. Pacers head coach Nate McMillan expressed his remorse on how his team started out flat in the opening quarter.

“I just thought we came out slow. They came out aggressive. I thought they came out—I thought they showed that they respected us. And they came out to play. That first quarter—first half—I thought we came in just slow and [with] no energy, and we finally got ourselves going in the second half. [We were] able to get back into the game, but, slow start. We finished pretty strong.”

The Pacers saw their five-game winning streak end with this painful loss at the hands of the Sixers. Still, they have the opportunity to bounce back as they take on the Ja Morant-less Memphis Grizzlies on Monday.

Other game:

Charlotte Hornets lost to the Milwaukee Bucks, 96-137

A sports aficionado ever since he first held a basketball, Paul was a student athlete in school and college. Today, he teaches English in university by day and a freelance sportswriter by night.

Read more