After Thursday night’s 126-111 win against the Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets superstar guard James Harden now has the most 50-point triple-doubles in NBA history. Harden, who’s in his 10th NBA season and his seventh with the Rockets, had 50 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists while shooting 14-26 from the field (and 18-19 from the free-throw line).
He now is the head of a very exclusive club, as there are only six players to have recorded 50-point triple doubles in NBA history and just four players to have multiple 50-point triple-doubles:
- James Harden: 4
- Russell Westbrook: 3
- Elgin Baylor: 2
- Wilt Chamberlain: 2
- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: 1
- Richie Guerin: 1
The Rockets have performed very poorly this season and not to the level of their talent. Houston, who pushed the Golden State Warriors to the brink of elimination in the 2018 Western Conference Finals, is now 12-14 on the season (14th in the Western Conference standings).
Losing defensive-minded wings Luc Mbah a Moute and Trevor Ariza to free agency this offseason hurt them more than they had expected. Their defensive scheme relied upon always having a wing on the floor who could guard multiple positions in the league’s semi-positionless era and now the only player that fits this bill for the Rockets is P.J. Tucker, who’s leading the team in minutes with an average of 34.6 a game.
This hasn’t stopped Harden from dominating offensively, of course, as the reigning NBA MVP was averaging 30.0 points, 5.3 rebounds and 8.1 assists with a true shooting percentage of 61.2 entering Thursday’s game.
However, veteran floor general Chris Paul has been dealing with injuries on and off and hasn’t been as dynamic for Houston as he was last season. He’s averaging 16.4 points, 8.0 assists and 4.6 rebounds per game while shooting only a career-low 42.0 percent from the field and just 33.9 percent from three-point range despite being a career 37.0 percent shooter from deep.
On the other hand, the Lakers have been fantastic after a slow start. They’re now 17-10, ranked fourth in the NBA’s very deep Western Conference. Four-time MVP LeBron James has proven to the difference-maker that the team envisioned. while acquiring Tyson Chandler off of waivers has proven enormous, preventing James from having to ever play center and get beat up inside defensively.
James dropped 29 points with 5 rebounds and 4 assists on Thursday night against the Rockets, looking dominant from start to finish although his paltry free-throw shooting continued, with him going just 2-6 from the charity stripe. On the season he’s averaging 28.3 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 7.1 assists while shooting a blistering 52.1 percent from the field.
Young cornerstones in point guard Lonzo Ball, swingman Brandon Ingram and forward Kyle Kuzma have proven to be solid counterparts around James as they continue their battle to the top of the West.
*All stats gathered from Basketball Reference