With 10 seconds remaining in the second quarter, James Harden knocked down a step-back 3-pointer to give the Houston Rockets an 81-52 lead into the halftime break. After a 29-point third quarter, Harden’s night came to a premature end with 60 points, as the Rockets took a 158-111 victory over the Atlanta Hawks, Saturday night, inside the Toyota Center in Houston.
It was an efficient night for Harden as the seven-time all-star shot 16-for-24 (66%) from the field, 8-for-14 (57.1%) from deep in 31 minutes. His 60-point performance was the fourth of his career, tying him with Michael Jordan for third-most in league history.
In addition to joining Jordan, Harden’s 24 shot attempts became the fewest ever in a 60-point game in league history.
The Hawks tried nearly every defensive scheme to slow Harden down, which included several double teams and traps throughout the game. Unfortunately for Atlanta, Harden exploited nearly every flaw in their defense to create several offensive opportunities for his teammates. He ended the night with eight assists while the Rockets shot 58.4% from the floor, 49.0% from 3-point range.
Despite missing two of their starters due to an illness (Clint Capela and Danuel House), the Rockets had no problem handling the Hawks with ease. Houston jumped out to an early 14-5 lead in the first quarter, as the Rockets recorded their third 80-point first half in franchise history.
Alongside Harden, Ben McLemore caught fire early scoring 10 of his 24 points in the first quarter, to go along with a team high 13 rebounds on the night. Russell Westbrook came close to another triple-double with 15 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in the win.
While playing all of the fourth quarter, the Rockets received an extra boost from Chris Clemons, as the rookie guard led the second unit in scoring with 16 points on 5-for-12 (41.6%) shooting from the field in 15 minutes of play.
After coming up short against the Pacers Friday night, the Hawks extended their losing streak to 10 in a loss to the Rockets. Following a career 49-point performance, Trae Young led the Hawks in scoring with 37 points while shooting 10-for-16 (62%) from the field, 5-for-9 (55%) from behind the arc.
Forward De’Andre Hunter added in 14 points, while Alex Len poured in a dozen. In his final game in Houston, Vince Carter played a total of 19 minutes, as the future Hall-of-Famer recorded four points in the loss.
Following the win, the Houston Rockets will hit the road to face their in-state rival, the San Antonio Spurs, Tuesday night, inside the AT&T Center in San Antonio. Tip-off is slated for 7 P.M.