James Harden’s 21st Triple-Double Pushes Rockets Past Kings

Behind James Harden’s 21st triple-double of the season, the Houston Rockets beat the Kings for their 54th win of the season.

This game won’t likely be remembered, but the Houston Rockets were able to beat the Sacramento Kings with little trouble on Sunday night. After the 10:00 minute mark in the first quarter, they never trailed en route to putting up 135 points. Trevor Ariza, Eric Gordon, and Nene all sat out to rest, but they weren’t missed much. James Harden and rest of the crew picked up the slack and had no trouble with the depleted Kings.

Sacramento Kings
Houston Rockets

Besides James Harden, several Rockets played well. It was good to see Ryan Anderson look comfortable after missing time with his sprained ankle. He shot 75% from the three point line and finished with 21 points. Clint Capela also had a solid performance, scoring 18 points on a perfect shooting night. He was 8/8 from the field and 2/2 from the free throw line.

For the Kings, who were also missing several key players, Skal Labissiere was the best man on the court. The rookie shot 10/12 overall and scored 25 points. Surprisingly enough, he was a +12 on the night, the only starter who finished in the positives.

The only blemish on the game for the Rockets was the fact that the Beard technically had a quadruple-double. In addition to his 35 points, 15 assists, and 11 boards, he also accrued 10 turnovers throughout the evening. It’s also unfortunate that his performance will likely not get as much attention as Russell Westbrook‘s 50-point triple-double against the Nuggets on the same night.

Speaking of Westbrook, Harden got a little controversial after the game. He was asked whether or not he thought team record should matter with MVP voting and said, “…I thought winning is the most important thing.”

His comment has been met with mixed feelings. Some say it’s a bad look, that it sounds like he’s advocating for Steph Curry or Kawhi Leonard to win the award. Others agree with him, saying that Westbrook’s failure to get the Thunder to 50 wins should be a significant knock on his MVP case.

In reality, it must be hard for the Beard to understand the media’s recent push to crown Westbrook MVP, considering he lost out on the hardware in the past because his team had fewer wins than the Warriors. In 2014-15, he had a better personal season than Curry, but wins ended up swaying the vote away from him.

To be sure, Westbrook has had one of the best individual seasons in history. However, Harden has as well. He’s led the Houston Rockets just as valiantly, and has produced more wins than his counterpart. Either way, though, a great case could be made for either of them to win MVP.

As far as Sunday’s game was concerned, it was a prime example of Harden leading his team to the finish line in an efficient manner. It’s something he’s done all season, and it’s something he’ll look to do in the playoffs as well.

Next, the Houston Rockets take on the LA Clippers in their last road game of the regular season. The Clippers are fighting for home-court advantage in the postseason, so they’ll be giving it their all.