James Harden's numbers were astounding, but weren't why Rockets won
James Harden put up the amazing numbers, but Montrezl Harrell and Eric Gordon’s games turned out to be just as impactful, if not more so.
The Houston Rockets made it 21 wins in 24 games with a victory in Toronto over the Raptors.
Harden finished with 40 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists, though he did have 10 turnovers. His is the first 40-point triple-double to have 10 turnovers since the NBA (and Elias Sports Bureau) began recording turnovers as an official stat in the 1977-78 season. His 10 triple-doubles this season rank second in the NBA behind Russell Westbrook's 17.
Harden’s 11 assists led to 26 points, meaning he scored or assisted on 66 points in the game. Harden is averaging scoring or assisting on 57.0 points per game this season. The NBA record over a full season is 56.8 by Tiny Archibald of the Kansas City-Omaha Kings in the 1972-73 season. Westbrook also has a chance at this mark. He’s scoring or assisting on 55.4 points per game.
Over the past two seasons, Harden has played the Raptors four times. He is averaging 35.3 points, 13.3 assists and 7.8 rebounds.
But it’s important to note, the Rockets were outscored by three points with Harden on the court. They won because their bench, led by Harrell and Gordon, scored 49 points. Harrell scored 28 points and plus-9. Gordon had 19 points and was plus-23 (his third-best plus-minus of the season).
Harrell went 12-of-13 (92 percent) from the field (he joined Chandler Parsons and Dwight Howard as Rockets to shoot that well from the field in a game in the last five seasons). His 28 points were the second-most he has scored in a game in his career (he had 29 against the Clippers on Dec. 30). Harrell has two 20-point games in his past six games after not having any in his first 63.
The performance of the Rockets’ bench is nothing new. Since Dec. 1, the Rockets have outscored teams by more than four more points per 100 possessions with Harden on the bench than when he has been in the game.