Houston Rockets: James Harden’s 15 most captivating performances

By Josh Cornelissen
James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /
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Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images
Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images /

6. January 27, 2017

Line: 51 points, 13 rebounds, 13 assists, 16-28 field goals, 13-14 free throws, +13

What’s greater than a 51-point game? A 51-point game that is also part of a triple double.

Only seven players in the history of the NBA have ever scored 50 or more points as part of a triple double, and Harden has done it four times. Only Wilt Chamberlain and Harden himself (stay tuned) have hit at least 51 points, 13 rebounds and 13 assists.

The Rockets were in Philadelphia midway through the 2016-17 season, taking on rookie phenom Joel Embiid. The game was nationally televised on ESPN and did not disappoint for those tuning in, with a tight game throughout ultimately won by Houston.

Harden flexed one of his greatest strengths frequently in this contest, probing into the defense until an opening was created, then threading a pocket pass to a rolling Nene or Clint Capela. When the defense hung back to guard against the roll man he cooked his defender for a stepback 3-pointer, hitting six in total.

The league’s most analytical scorer even stepped into the midrange, hitting a pair of shots to close the second and third quarters from inside the arc. In the fourth quarter with Philadelphia hanging around, he scored from the field and the line to put things away. In hitting 50 points he became the first player in NBA history to ever put up a 50-point triple double twice in one season.

Next: November 5, 2017