LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Houston superstar James Harden continued his historic streak Wednesday night by scoring a career-high and franchise-record 61 points, but it was Eric Gordon who drained the biggest shot, a 3-pointer with nine seconds left that gave the Rockets the lead for good in a wild 114-110 win over the host New York Knicks.
Harden has scored at least 30 points in 21 consecutive games, the fourth-longest such streak in NBA history, behind only three authored by Wilt Chamberlain. “Wilt the Stilt” scored 30 points in 25 straight games during the 1960-61 season, in 31 straight games spanning the 1961-62 and 1962-63 seasons and in 65 straight games during the 1961-62 season.
The 61 points are the most by a player in an NBA game this season – Kemba Walker scored 60 points for the Charlotte Hornets on Nov. 17 – and tied for the most ever scored by a Knicks opponent at Madison Square Garden. Kobe Bryant scored 61 points for the Los Angeles Lakers on February 2, 2009.
There was little suspense regarding Harden’s streak Wednesday, when he scored 19 points in the first quarter, finished the first half with 36 points and ended the third quarter with 49 points. He missed six consecutive shots before reaching 50 points with a jumper with 4:22 left.
The Rockets appeared headed for a relatively easy victory when Harden drained three free throws – the last of which was a technical free throw following the ejection of Knicks head coach David Fizdale – to give Houston a 107-101 lead with 1:08 left.
However, the Knicks scored seven points in a span of 25 seconds and took the lead on Emmanuel Mudiay’s second free throw with 34.9 seconds left. 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.
Gordon then drained an open 3-pointer with 11.4 seconds remaining, after which the Knicks used their last timeout. New York’s Noah Vonleh subsequently was swallowed up by Gordon, who slapped the ball loose near midcourt. Harden picked up the ball and raced in for the milestone dunk that allowed him to break his previous career-high – set Jan. 30, 2018 against the Orlando Magic – by one point.
Harden also had 15 rebounds, five steals and four assists for the Rockets, who have alternated wins with losses in their last 11 games. Gordon finished with 20 points.
Trier scored a career-high 31 points and added 10 rebounds for the Knicks, who have lost seven straight and 15 of 16.