3. December 31, 2016
Line: 53 points, 16 rebounds, 17 assists, 9-16 3-pointers, 16-18 free throws, +13
Speaking of the Knicks, James Harden had particular success against them, putting up one of the best stat lines of his career on New Year’s Eve.
While people in New York waited for the ball to drop in Times Square, the players of New York watched the ball drop time and time again for Harden in Houston.
This was a Knicks team expected to make noise with Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah added in the offseason, but the results were disappointing. Even so, they had talent and hung around with the Rockets for much of the game.
What they could never do was get out in front, because Harden was busy hitting shot after shot. When he was doubled or the defense even took a step towards him he fired the ball to a teammate for an open shot. Ryan Anderson was a particular recipient on his way to 25 points on 12 shots.
By halftime Harden had 24 points, nine rebounds and 10 assists. By the end of the game he had 53 points, 17 assists and 16 rebounds.
The 53 points were a career-high, the 17 assists tied a career high and the total rebounds were a career-high for all of three weeks. He also set a personal record (at the time) with nine 3-pointers, occasionally hitting shots from Galveston.
Harden tied Wilt Chamberlain for the most points in a triple double, and became the only player to ever have at least 50 points, 15 assists and 15 rebounds in a single game. The second record has stood since.
This game was only third on the list, and there are two games with more impressive and captivating performances. But to finish a game with 16 points and 17 rebounds is an incredible feat that would be an incredible career game for any player.
Next: January 30, 2018