LOS ANGELES (AFP) - James Harden took his high-scoring act to Madison Square Garden on Wednesday where he dazzled his way to a season-high 61 points as the Houston Rockets edged the hapless New York Knicks, 114-110.
“Every time I come to the Garden I got to put on a show. They expect it and that is what I gave them,” said Harden.
Harden is scoring at a pace the NBA hasn’t seen since the heyday of Wilt Chamberlain, as he stretched his streak of scoring 30-plus points to 21 games. He is making anything seem possible, earning his third 50-plus point game — while racking up 261 points — in his last five contests.
Chamberlain owns the longest streak of 30-plus point outings, a mammoth 65-game run during the 1961-62 season. Chamberlain still has two other 30-plus scoring streaks that are longer than Harden’s of 31 and 25 games.
Harden tied Kobe Bryant for the most points ever by an opponent at the fabled Garden and he is second all-time to former Knick Carmelo Anthony’s 62 points in 2014.
“I got to keep going,” Harden said. “My legacy is at stake. Basketball is something I love doing. There is no limit to what I can do.”
Harden helped salt the game away for the Rockets with three seconds left by grabbing a loose ball and going in for a soaring dunk to cap the scoring.
He also had 15 rebounds, shot 17-of-38 from the floor and drained 22 of 25 free throws. He was just five of 20 from beyond the arc.
“With most of the guys injured we have to play defense and create offense off our defense. In the first half we didn’t do it, in the second half did and we won,” said Harden.
Rookie Allonzo Trier scored a season-high 31 points for the lowly Knicks, who kept it tight at the end but lost their seventh straight game.
Their coach David Fizdale was ejected with 68 seconds to go when he earned his second technical foul of the night.
Coming into the game, the lowly Knicks were allowing 115.7 points per game, the third-highest figure in the league.
Harden’s best previous game at the Garden was 36 points but he had that by halftime.
Elsewhere, Thaddeus Young had 23 points and 15 rebounds as Indiana beat the first place Toronto Raptors 110-106 but the victory was costly as all-star Victor Oladipo suffered a serious right knee injury.
Oladipo, who will be examined by Pacers’ doctors on Thursday, could be facing surgery which would likely mean the end of his season.
“It’s unfortunate,” Darren Collison said. “We’ve got to keep going for him.”
The all-star NBA guard was hurt when he fell to the floor while defending against Raptors forward Pascal Siakam with just over four minutes left in the first half.
“After suffering a serious injury to his right knee, Victor Oladipo will have an MRI tomorrow and an update will be provided then,” the club said in a news release.
Toronto was led by Serge Ibaka with 23 points and 11 rebounds and Kyle Lowry with 20 points — but they played without their star Kawhi Leonard, who the coaching staff decided to rest.