Harden drops 58 in a losing cause

James Harden
HARDEN: Hot again, this time scoring a season-high 58.

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - James Harden scored a season-high 58 points and the Houston Rockets shot an NBA record 70 three point attempts, but it wasn’t enough to beat the Brooklyn Nets in overtime on Wednesday.

Spencer Dinwiddie scored 25 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter and overtime as the Nets spoiled Harden’s huge scoring night with a 145-142 win.

“The man had 60 and we won,” Dinwiddie said. “That’s big-time for a young group.”

Harden had his second straight season high after scoring 57 in a victory over Memphis on Monday. Houston made just 23 of their record 70 three point attempts.

Harden has scored at least 30 points in 18 straight games and has reached 40 in nine of the last 12.

He finished 16 of 34 overall from the field, made 21 of 23 free throws and had 10 rebounds and a half dozen assists.

But he was disappointed that his team surrendered a seven-point lead in overtime.

“Frustrating. Very frustrating,” Harden said. “We were small. .... we had a couple of mistakes out there near the end. But give them credit, they made some big shots.”

The Rockets broke their own record for three-point attempts after shooting 61 against New Orleans in December 2016. Houston also holds the record for most three-pointers made after hitting 26 in a win over Washington this season.

Elsewhere, Kyrie Irving scored 27 points and had a career-high 18 assists as the Boston Celtics snapped a three-game losing streak with a 117-108 win over the Toronto Raptors in a battle of two Eastern Conference heavyweights.

Irving, who returned from a leg injury, hit a fadeaway jumper to give the Celtics the lead, then drained a 30 foot three pointer for the last of his 27 as the Celtics closed with a 17-4 run.

Irving missed the Celtics game on Monday with a sore right quadriceps. He suffered the injury in a 105-103 loss to the Orlando Magic on Saturday.

Irving had 10 of his 18 assists in the fourth quarter, including setting up the Celtics’ last three baskets of the contest.

“Somehow people still think I can’t pass,” Irving said. “When guys are making shots, it makes my job a lot easier.”

Al Horford scored 24 and Jayson Tatum had 16 points with 10 rebounds for Boston, which returned home after losing three straight on the road.

Kawhi Leonard scored 33 points and Serge Ibaka had 22 with 10 rebounds for the Raptors, who are now 33-13 overall and fell percentage points behind Milwaukee (32-12) for the best record in the NBA.

Toronto have won five in a row heading into the matchup of two teams that consider themselves the heir to LeBron James’ Cavaliers as the best team in the East.

After adding Leonard in the offseason, the Raptors have zoomed to the top of the conference standings.

Irving said told reporters after Wednesday’s game that he put in a call to James earlier in the week to apologize for failing to understand what it is to be a team leader when they were teammates with the Cavaliers.

“I apologized for being that young player that wanted everything at his fingertips,” he said. “The responsibility of being the best player in the world and leading a team is something that’s not meant for many people. And Bron was one of those guys.”