HOUSTON (AP) — James Harden had just scored a career-high 56 points when he was asked if he knew he had fallen one point shy of the Houston Rockets’ record.
Harden shrugged and replied, “We won, right?”
And they did it with Harden only playing 35 minutes in a 137-110 victory over the Utah Jazz on Sunday night that ran their Western Conference-best record to 8-3.
Harden fell just shy of Calvin Murphy’s 57 points against New Jersey in 1978, but he joined Wilt Chamberlain as the only players in NBA history to have 10 assists and shoot better than 75 percent from the field in a 50-point performance.
Harden had 13 assists and shot a sizzling 76 percent from the floor, hitting 19 of 25 shots after missing his last three attempts. The MVP runner-up was a perfect 7 for 7 from beyond the arc until he missed a step-back 3-pointer midway through the fourth quarter as the shot clock was about to expire.
“That was one of the best performances I’ve ever seen,” Gordon said. “He was picking them apart and not just with scoring. What else can you do?”
Ariza had the answer to that: nothing.
“I don’t think there’s any defense for him, period,” Ariza said. “When he’s on, what can you do? Two people can’t guard him when he’s on like that.”
Harden received a standing ovation from the Toyota Center crowd, which rained down “MVP! MVP!” chants at multiple points during the game. He had 22 points in both the first and third quarters, 30 at halftime and sat for the final 7:32 of the blowout.
Harden said he was unaware he was 8 for 8 in the first quarter and made his first 10 shots to start the game.
“I mean, I was just shooting, I don’t really know,” Harden said. “I don’t pay too much attention to it.”