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Rockets edge Knicks behind James Harden’s 61 points

This was almost a bad loss, but 61 from The Beard got it done.

Houston Rockets v New York Knicks Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

James Harden scored 61 points to go along with 15 rebounds, 4 assists, and 5 steals, and the Houston Rockets battled back from a 13-point first-half deficit before almost blowing a lead in return down the stretch, but they ultimately held on for a 114-110 victory over the New York Knicks in Madison Square Garden.

With the Rockets up 107-101, P.J. Tucker made a series of mental errors that almost cost the Rockets, fouling Allonzo Trier behind the three-point line and then pulling the ultimate in brain farts for whatever the heck this was:

Trier then toasted Tucker to the cup to give the Knicks a 110-109 lead, but an Eric Gordon three followed by a Beard bucket after a Knicks turnover (hey, they’re the Knicks for a reason) closed out the game in the win column for Houston. It certainly wasn’t pretty, but it counts all the same.

The game was so close to begin with because the Rockets came out with poor shooting and even worse defense, allowing the Knicks to build a first-half lead behind 54 percent from the field before the break, while Houston missed 9 of their first 10 threes and shot just 39 percent in the first half. They went into the break down 63-58, but were behind double-digits for a big part of the half.

They rebounded in the second half, tightening up the D a little, especially in the third, and they rode the Harden train all the way to the finish line, though the Bearded one did get some extra help scoring in the second half that wasn’t present in the first.

Eric Gordon finished the game with 20 points, and he was 8-15 from the field and 3-5 from deep. He looked spry tonight, and his drives to the bucket were big. Houston also got 11 points, 8 rebounds, 3 steals, and 3 blocks from Kenneth Faried, and they got 8 from James Ennis and 7 from Gerald Green. Those two had just 1 combined point at the break, so they really stepped it up after halftime to lend a hand in the scoring department.

Harden racked up his fifth 50-plus scoring night of the season, and it was his first 60-burger.

The Knicks were led by Trier, who finished with 31 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 assists, and they also got 21 from Tim Hardaway Jr., 14 from Emmanual Mudiay, 12 points and 8 boards from Kevin Knox, 12 points and 4 blocks from Mitchell Robinson, and 10 points, 10 rebounds, and 2 blocks from Noah Vonleh.

The Rockets move to 27-20 with the win, and they’ll be back in action Friday night at home against the Toronto Raptors, where it’s rumored we could see the return of Chris Paul.