James Harden is using the NBA as his personal playground.
James Harden is using the NBA as his personal playground.

‘Inhuman’: NBA freak’s historic outing

JAMES Harden may not be of this world. The reigning NBA MVP is on a tear the likes of which have rarely been seen in the league.

Known more commonly as 'The Beard', Harden lit up New York's Madison Square Garden on Thursday (AEST) by erupting for a career-high 61 points.

It's the second most points ever scored at the venue, just one behind Carmelo Anthony. It's also the highest score of the 2018/19 season and the most points in a game by a player since 2017.

The Houston Rockets needed every single one of the points as they just managed to scrape past the Knicks in a game that went right down to the wire.

"In the Garden, I'll take it," Harden said post game.

Harden threw down the clinching dunk with 3.8 seconds remaining after the Knicks turned it over, and the Rockets edged the Knicks 114-110.

With his final basket, Harden capped his fifth 50-point game this season and a wild stretch of back-and-forth basketball across the final minutes.

 

James Harden had a day out.  Picture: Getty Images
James Harden had a day out. Picture: Getty Images

"The way we played in the last six minutes, maybe four minutes, we set basketball back at least 10 years," Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni said.

"It was mind-boggling the things we just did. We got the win."

A day after saying he hadn't yet experienced his Madison Square Garden moment, Harden finished 17 of 38 from the floor. He was only 5 of 20 on 3-pointers but was 22 of 25 from the line and grabbed 15 rebounds in front of a crowd that cheered some of his long jumpers but then booed after he drew foul after foul.

"They couldn't figure out what they wanted to do," Harden said.

"But I appreciate them though, honestly. Tonight they kept me going and made the game exciting for me."

It means his streak of scoring 30+ points has hit 21 straight games, the fourth longest streak in the history of the game.

Harden's scoring average for the month of January has now reached an absurd 45.3 points per game. If he can keep his hot form up and keep his average at 45, he'll join Chamberlain as the only men in NBA history to achieve the feat for an entire month.

Somehow his last five games which have seen him average 51.2 points, of the 76 made shots a grand total of zero have been assisted. Highlighting the fact Harden is working as a one-man band.

Ben Simmons rises to the rim against San Antonio.
Ben Simmons rises to the rim against San Antonio.

BEN SIMMONS' TRIPLE-DOUBLE FUELS COMEBACK

Ben Simmons notched his eighth triple-double of the NBA season and Joel Embiid scored 33 points as the 76ers edged the San Antonio Spurs 122-120 in Philadelphia.

Simmons produced a strong all-round performance with 21 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds while he also made a key deflection with 1.1 seconds remaining when Marco Belinelli attempted a go-ahead layup.

The incredible display gives Simmons his 20th career triple-double, making him the third-youngest player in NBA history to reach the mark.

Behind only legends Oscar Robertson and Magic Johnson, he however recorded the number in less games than Johnson.

DeMar DeRozan top scored for the Spurs with 26 points while Simmons' compatriot Patty Mills contributed 17 off of the bench.

Simmons and fellow Australian Jonah Bolden combined for one of the plays of the contest when Bolden blocked LeMarcus Aldridge twice on the same sequence and Simmons grabbed a loose ball off the second rejection.

As he took off down the floor he found a running Bolden who threw down the crowd-igniting dunk.

Simmons and Embiid have proved to be a devastating duo this season and have combined for a staggering 71 double-doubles already this season.

"We're getting a lot better. Its just our second season playing together. It's kind of scary," Simmons said.

Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo.
Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo.

'PRAYERS UP' FOR PACERS STAR VICTOR OLADIPO

Indiana Pacers All-Star guard Victor Oladipo suffered a potentially-serious knee injury during the second quarter of the team's game against the Toronto Raptors at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

The Pacers' medical staff covered Oladipo's knee with a towel after the injury, and he was then wheeled off the floor on a stretcher.

The incident happened when the Raptors tried to get out on a fast break and after Serge Ibaka grabbed a rebound, he flipped the ball to Kyle Lowry, who threw a long outlet pass down the floor.

Oladipo was hustling back on defence when he appeared to slip or get tangled up with Toronto's Pascal Siakam.

He went to the ground and was grimacing in pain as his teammates called for the doctors.

Oladipo - who missed 11 games earlier this season with a knee injury - waved to the crowd as he was taken off.

ESPN's NBA reporter Adrian Wojnarowski suggested that Oladipo's season could well be over, citing league sources.

The Pacers confirmed the seriousness of the injury in a tweet of their own, which also indicated Oladipo would undergo an MRI tomorrow.

A host of NBA stars quickly sent messages of support, with Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James, Phoenix guard Devin Booker, Washington guard Bradley Beal and Oklahoma City's George among those who posted expressions of support toward Oladipo.

The Pacers nearly managed to blow the 12-point lead they held at halftime when Ibaka made a jump shot to bring the Raptors to within 2 points at 101-103 with 48 seconds on the clock but calm free-throw shooting from both Darren Collison and Tyreke Evans sealed a 110-106 win for the home side against a Kawhi Leonard-less Toronto team.

With Indiana third in the Eastern Conference right now, an extended lay-off for Oladipo could spell trouble but they do have Evans as a ready-made replacement at the guard spot if he is needed.

- with AP