Freak’s ‘insane’ NBA explosion shatters records
BASKETBALL: James Harden went full beast mode as he single-handedly tore the Orlando Magic to shreds in a history-making performance for the Houston Rockets at the Toyota Centre on Wednesday (AEDT).
The Rockets defeated the Magic 114-107 but you could be forgiven for not realising any of Harden's teammates were on the court as he blew people's minds while shattering records.
After 46 minutes of game time Harden finished with a stat sheet never seen before in the league. He had 60 points, 10 rebounds, 11 assists and four steals.
His 60 points - which included five baskets from beyond the arc - broke the franchise record for most points in a game, overtaking the 57 recorded by Hall of Famer Calvin Murphy in 1978.
Harden's haul is also the first 60-point triple double in NBA history.
To put his numbers in perspective, the entire Orlando starting five of Jonathon Simmons, Evan Fournier, Bismack Biyombo, Elfrid Payton and Mario Hezonja combined for 56 points, 14 rebounds, 13 assists, five three-pointers and five steals in 126 minutes.
When he reached the 60-point mark, he gestured to the crowd to get up in support and the fans obliged, giving him a standing ovation for his one-man freakshow.
"We needed to win, it was a big game for us before going on a four-game roadtrip," Harden said in an on-court interview shortly after the final siren.
"He (Murphy) is one of the greatest to ever put the Rockets uniform on. It's great keeping company with Cal."
Including Harden's assists, he had a hand in 86 of the Rockets' 114 points, and to make things even more impressive, he did it without sidekicks Chris Paul and Trevor Ariza, who missed the game with groin soreness and a strained hamstring respectively.
The Rockets lost another player when Eric Gordon, who is second on the team in scoring averaging 19.5 points a game, left early in the second quarter with lower back stiffness.
Unsurprisingly, social media was flooded with admiration and awe - but mostly shock - at the show Harden put on for his adoring home fans.
After Harden broke the record cameras in the arena showed a shot of Murphy, who works on the television broadcast team, smiling and clapping.
The game was tied at 107-all after a basket by Marreese Speights with just under four minutes to play. Neither team scored for more than two minutes after that before Harden took over, scoring the next six points to make it 113-107 with 45 seconds left.
He set the scoring mark when he stepped back and made a three-pointer before crashing to the court after being fouled by Hezonja. He then made the free throw to give him 60 points and bringing the crowd to its feet.
Harden, who also had four steals and a block, grabbed his 10th rebound a few seconds later to give him his third triple double this season.
He made 17 of 18 free throws and was 19 of 30 from the floor with five three-pointers.
Hezonja and Speights scored 17 points each for the Magic, who dropped their third straight game.
It was Harden's fourth 50-point game this season and Wednesday's performance bested his previous career-high of 56 points set in November against Utah.