Harden explodes for 58 points as Rockets rally to beat Heat; Magic shock Warriors to end long barren run

James Harden delivered his seventh career 50-point, 10-assist performance on Thursday (Feb 28), as the Houston Rockets edged the Miami Heat 121-118.

With Harden in a three-point shooting slump over the last few games, the Rockets have been depending on their reserves to help get the job done.

But he reasserted himself in front of a home crowd of 18,100 at the Toyota Centre, finishing with 58 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds on a night when the Rockets had to once again tinker with their roster because of injuries.

“I wanted to be aggressive and continue to attack the rim,” Harden said. “I took my shots when I had the opportunities.”

He got some help down the stretch from Austin Rivers (17 points) and Chris Paul, whose jumper with 46 seconds left followed a failed Harden three-pointer and extended the lead to three.

Coming into the game Harden was just three for 31 from beyond the arc in his previous three games.

He has three 50-point, 10-assist games this season but had his streak of consecutive 30-point games snapped at 32 on Monday against the Atlanta Hawks.

“We get the stat sheet at the end of the game, and I saw he had 58,” teammate Rivers said. “All of us were like, ‘He had that many points?’ We had no idea he had that many points. That’s a lot of points. He was incredible.”

Last month, Harden scored a career-high and franchise-record 61 points in a 114-110 win over the lowly New York Knicks.

Miami grabbed a 113-103 lead on a Goran Dragic three pointer with 6:18 remaining, but Houston answered with a 14-0 run to take the lead.

Miami had seven players scoring in double figures with Dragic and Kelly Olynyk scoring 21 points apiece.

The Heat shot 51.9 per cent overall but went cold at the wrong time, posting only 20 points on six-for-17 shooting in the final period.

“We were lackadaisical on defence, especially in that second quarter,” Harden said. “They gained confidence and knocked down shots. They were just too comfortable, so we had to pick the pressure up in the second half, create some turnovers and energy with our defence.”

The Rockets were without regulars Eric Gordon (knee), Kenneth Faried (hip) and Iman Shumpert (calf).

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