James Harden was labeled “amazing” by Houston coach Mike D’Antoni after erupting in a fourth-quarter scoring spree to lead the Rockets to a 102-93 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday.
Harden led the scoring with 47 points, including seven three-pointers, while the former NBA MVP also added six rebounds and seven assists.
The Houston talisman plundered 17 points late in the fourth quarter to help transform an 84-80 deficit with 5min 52sec remaining into victory.
“It’s not like we haven’t seen it before, and we’ll see it again,” Rockets head coach D’Antoni said.
“He’s amazing. He’s just a master of the game. It’s what I expect. He’s a special player, no doubt about it.”
Harden shouldered the bulk of the Rockets’ offensive duties, with Russell Westbrook (17) and Clint Capela (12) the only other Houston players to score double figures.
The Clippers were led by Kawhi Leonard, who had 26 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists.
Lou Williams had 20 off the bench for the Clippers while JaMychal Green added 14 as the Clippers fell to 7-4 with the defeat.
The Clippers also had coach Doc Rivers ejected in a surreal exchange late in the fourth quarter which saw his son — Rockets shooting guard Austin Rivers — urging officials to toss him.
“It was a really good moment,” Austin Rivers joked afterwards.
“I enjoyed it a lot. I’m not gonna lie to you. I really did enjoy that.”
– Lakers rout Warriors –
The Rockets improved to 8-3, leaving them hard on the heels of the Los Angeles Lakers, who cruised to a blowout 120-94 win over the injury-decimated Golden State Warriors on Wednesday.
The Warriors, who reached five consecutive NBA Finals from 2015-2019 have endured a nightmare start to the season, with a long-term injury to Stephen Curry depleting a squad already attempting to adjust from the loss of Klay Thompson (knee) and departure of Kevin Durant to the Brooklyn Nets.
The Lakers were in no mood to show the Warriors any mercy at the Staples Center on Wednesday, LeBron James scoring 23 points and Kyle Kuzma 22 in a comfortable win.
The Lakers, who have not have reached the playoffs since 2013, lead the Western Conference with a 9-2 record.
In the Eastern Conference, the Boston Celtics improved to 9-1 to remain on top of the table after a 140-133 defeat of the Washington Wizards.
Kemba Walker had 25 points in an impressive all-round scoring display by the Celtics, who saw seven players reach double digits.
Walker was backed by Jayson Tatum with 23 points and Jaylen Brown with 22. Turkish star Enes Kanter meanwhile pulled down nine rebounds as well as contributing 13 points.
But it was a frustrating night for Washington’s Bradley Beal, who finished with 44 points, five rebounds and six assists yet somehow ended on the losing side.
In Orlando, Nikola Vucevic scored 25 points as the Magic jolted the Philadelphia 76ers with a 112-97 victory.
The Sixers, playing without the injured Joel Embiid, fell to 7-4 after the loss while Joel Embiid Orlando improved to 4-7.
In Portland, the reigning NBA champion Toronto Raptors eased past the Trail Blazers after another superb display from Pascal Siakam.
Siakam, who had scored 24 points in a win over the Lakers on Sunday, once again led the scoring with 36 points, receiving backing from Fred VanVleet who finished with 30.