Houston superstar James Harden continued his historic streak by scoring a career-high and franchise-record 61 points, but it was Eric Gordon who drained the biggest shot, a three-pointer with nine seconds left that gave the Rockets the lead for good in a wild 114-110 win over the host New York Knicks on Wednesday night.
Harden has scored at least 30 points in 21 consecutive games, the fourth-longest such streak in NBA history, behind only three authored by Wilt Chamberlain.
The 61 points are the most by a player in an NBA game this season – Kemba Walker scored 60 points for the Charlotte Hornets on November 17 – and tied for the most ever scored by a Knicks opponent at Madison Square Garden. Kobe Bryant scored 61 points for the Los Angeles Lakers on February 2, 2009.
There was little suspense regarding Harden’s streak Wednesday, when he scored 19 points in the first quarter, finished the first half with 36 points and ended the third quarter with 49 points. He missed six consecutive shots before reaching 50 points with a jumper with 4:22 left.
Toronto overcame a 15-point third-quarter deficit to cut the Pacers lead to five with 9:17 to play in the fourth quarter on Ibaka’s lay-up and free throw.
The Raptors trailed by one after Ibaka’s jumper with 4:20 left, but Young came back to complete a three-point play. Ibaka’s jumper trimmed the deficit to two, but Collison restored the lead to four on a jumper with 1:52 left.
Green made a three-pointer to cut the margin to one with 31.6 seconds left. Young gave Indiana a three-point lead with 10.8 seconds to go on a turnaround jumper.
Green then missed a three-point attempt and Indiana sealed the win at the foul line.
The Rockets appeared headed for a relatively easy victory when Harden drained three free throws to give Houston a 107-101 lead with 1:08 left. However, the Knicks scored seven points in a span of 25 seconds and took the lead on Emmanuel Mudiay’s second free throw with 34.9 seconds remaining.
Harden then hit two free throws to give the Rockets a 109-108 lead with 29.9 seconds to go, after which Allonzo Trier responded with a driving lay-up to put the Knicks back in front 110-109 with 20 ticks left.
Gordon then drained an open three-pointer with 11.4 seconds remaining. New York’s Noah Vonleh was then stripped of possession by Gordon, who slapped the ball loose near midcourt. Harden picked up the ball and raced in for the milestone dunk that allowed him to break his previous career-high by one point.
Harden also had 15 rebounds, five steals and four assists for the Rockets. Gordon finished with 20 points.
Trier scored a career-high 31 points and added 10 rebounds for the Knicks, who have lost seven straight and 15 of 16.
Toronto Raptors 106-110 Indiana Pacers
Thaddeus Young scored 12 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter and grabbed 15 rebounds as the Indiana Pacers held off a late rally to defeat the Toronto Raptors 110-106 in Indianapolis.
The Pacers lost guard Victor Oladipo with 4:05 left in the first half. He left on a stretcher with what the team termed a serious right knee injury, and will undergo an MRI exam Thursday. Oladipo, Indiana’s leading scorer on the season, had four points, three rebounds and one assist.
Darren Collison added 17 points, and Bojan Bogdanovic had 16 points for the Pacers, who won their third game in a row. Myles Turner contributed 13 points and 10 rebounds, Domantas Sabonis had 12 points, and Tyreke Evans had 11.
Serge Ibaka had 23 points and 11 rebounds for the Raptors while Kyle Lowry added 20 points and seven assists. Pascal Siakam had 16 points and nine rebounds.
San Antonio Spurs 120-122 Philadelphia 76ers
Joel Embiid scored 33 points and grabbed 19 rebounds to lift the host Philadelphia 76ers past the San Antonio Spurs 122-120.
Ben Simmons secured his eighth triple-double of the season with 21 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds as the Sixers won their second in a row.
It was Embiid’s 40th double-double of the season as Philadelphia managed another win without guard Jimmy Butler, who sat out with a sore wrist.
JJ Redick shot 6-of-13 from three-point range for 19 points. DeMar DeRozan led the Spurs with 26 points while Patty Mills and Rudy Gay added 17 apiece.
Marco Belinelli had a chance to tie the game or give the Spurs the lead as San Antonio had the ball with 1.1. seconds left. But Simmons knocked the ball away from Belinelli to preserve the win.