A day after knocking down one of the most incredible buzzer-beaters in recent memory, Dwyane Wade had to sit back and watch as his team were overwhelmed.
The Miami Heat, still riding high after defeating the Golden State Warriors, travelled into Houston and stormed away to a 14-point halftime lead.
But then James Harden came to the party and led his Houston Rockets back into the contest before emerging with the 121-118 victory.
Harden has been at the forefront of the MVP conversation for the second-straight season and his display against the Heat will go into the record books.
The Rockets superstar saw his streak of scoring 30 or more points in a game come to an end after 32 games, but he bounced back with an offensive onslaught.
He erupted on the Heat as he dropped 58 points and pulled down seven rebounds while dishing out 10 assists.
The 58 points are the most an opponent has ever scored against the Heat in NBA history and also gives Harden his sixth 50 point game of the season. No other player has more than one.
He is also the only player in NBA history to score 58 or more points and dish out 10 assists in a game and has done so twice.
It’s the latest display in what has been his second straight season of offensive dominance and should put him back in the drivers seat for the MVP over Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The two men have duelled all season long for the crown and the race looks like it will go down to the wire.
Harden so far throughout the 2018-19 season is averaging a staggering 36.2 points per game to go along with 7.6 assists and 6.6 rebounds.
After the game Dwyane Wade praised Harden and gave the guard a big wrap for the way he’s currently playing.
“He’s definitely one of the most unguardable players this game has ever seen” Wade said.
James Harden scored or assisted on 83 points and it’s not even among the five most prolific games of his career lol.
— Micah Adams (@MicahAdams13) March 1, 2019
James Harden has the NBA’s last five 50-point/10-assist games. And 7 of the last 10. Including the only two 58-point/10-assist games in NBA History. Different animal.
— Chris Martin Palmer (@ChrisPalmerNBA) March 1, 2019
“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.
“I wanted to be aggressive and continue to attack the rim.
“I took my shots when I had the opportunities, and not only myself, but Austin (Rivers), Gary (Clark), Chris (Paul) made some plays down the stretch. It was a total team effort tonight.”
AUSSIE DUO LEAD SIXERS OVER THUNDER
Australian duo Ben Simmons and Jonah Bolden have played important roles for the Philadelphia 76ers to claim a drought-breaking 108-104 win over Oklahoma City Thunder.
Simmons had 11 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists for his ninth triple-double of the season and Bolden stepped up with 14 points in the absence of injured big men Joel Embiid and Boban Marjanovic.
Bolden equalled his best points total in his rookie season on six-of-seven shooting to finish with 14 points.
Tobias Harris topscored with 32 points as the Sixers snapped a 19-game losing streak against the Thunder dating back to November 15, 2008.
Simmons’ final rebound was a big one, a grab on the offensive end with little more than three seconds remaining before the ball was batted out of bounds.
Harris, acquired earlier in February in a deal with the Los Angeles Clippers, posted his highest points total in eight games with the 76ers.
Russell Westbrook recorded his 25th triple-double of the season with 23 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists for the Thunder, but he made only eight of 24 shots for Oklahoma City.
Without MVP contender and Defensive Player of the Year frontrunner Paul George, the Thunder fought back gallantly into the contest but couldn’t overcome the Sixers.
ORLANDO STUN REIGNING NBA CHAMPS
The Orlando Magic proved again they can beat the best of the NBA.
They’ve also shown this week they can lose to some of the worst. Aaron Gordon had 22 points and 15 rebounds, Terrence Ross added 16 points and the Magic rallied in the final three minutes to beat the Golden State Warriors 103-96 on Friday.
The win completes a week in which the Magic went 2-2, also beating Atlantic Division leader Toronto, but losing to the lowly New York Knicks and Chicago Bulls.
“It’s complacency, we’ve got to beat complacency,” Gordon said. “We showed again tonight we’re a good team, but we’ve got to learn to play at that level against everybody and not be complacent.”
A night after they were stunned in Miami by Dwyane Wade’s buzzer-beater, the Warriors blew an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter and lost for the fourth time in six games.
D.J. Augustin scored 14 points and Nikola Vucevic had 12 points and 13 rebounds to help Orlando end an 11-game losing streak to the Warriors. Orlando’s last win over Golden State was on Dec. 14, 2012.
“Playing up-and-down has been an issue for us all year, but we’re finally showing confidence in ourselves, especially in the fourth quarter,” Vucevic said.
“We didn’t have any focus against the Knicks the other night, but we stayed with it against (the Warriors) and it paid off. We need to do that every night now.”
Stephen Curry scored 33 points, but was only 1 for 6 in the fourth quarter. Klay Thompson and DeMarcus Cousins each had 21 for the Warriors, who played without Kevin Durant (rest) and Andre Iguodala (sick).
Golden State was just 7 of 23 in the fourth quarter, getting outscored 33-15. The Warriors hit just 9 of 40 (22.5 per cent) from behind the 3-point line in the game. Curry was 5 of 17 on 3-pointers.
“Steph is beating himself up a little bit because he knows he had a lot of open shots that didn’t go,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.
“I thought Orlando did a better job executing down the stretch than we did. I didn’t think we executed very well at either end of the floor, especially in the fourth quarter.”
It was the first time Golden State lost to Eastern Conference teams in back-to-back nights since March 1-2, 2013, at Boston and Philadelphia.
— with AP
Originally published as ‘One of the most unguardable players ever’