Harden’s streak ends at 32, James enters class of his own

Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) attempts to steal the ball from Atlanta Hawks guard Kevin Huerter (3) during the third quarter at Toyota Center. (Reuters pic)

LOS ANGELES: James Harden missed all 10 three-pointers he attempted, snapping his 32-game streak with at least 30 points as the Houston Rockets defeated the Atlanta Hawks 119-111 on Monday.

Harden finished with 28 points after missing Saturday’s victory over the Golden State Warriors with a neck injury. He said at practice earlier Monday that he was still bothered by the neck problem.

His run of games with 30 or more points was the second-longest in league history behind a 65-game streak by Wilt Chamberlain.

Harden reached 28 points with 23 seconds left in the fourth. He even had the ball near halfcourt on the last play of the game, but unlike previous games during the streak, he did not attempt to pad his scoring total.

Harden last finished shy of 30 points on December 11 against the Portland Trail Blazers when he tallied 29. During the streak, he scored 50 or more points four times, including a career-high 61 in a win over the New York Knicks on January 23.

Harden said he had no false ideas about catching Chamberlain.

“It was cool but I knew I wasn’t going to get to No. 1,” Harden said.

Harden, who was fined US$25,000 on Saturday for criticising the referees after a loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, has missed just four games this season.

“Eventually it was going to have to end one of these days,” coach Mike D’Antoni said. “He’s unbelievable. He’ll start another one.”

Chris Paul added 20 points, and Eric Gordon hit four three-pointers for 16 points.

The Rockets had to overcome a career-high eight three-pointers from Hawks rookie Trae Young, who finished with 36 points.

Elsewhere, Mike Conley hit some clutch free throws in the final minute and finished with 30 points as the Memphis Grizzlies added to the Lakers woes this season with a 110-105 victory.

LeBron James had a triple-double and made history despite shooting just eight of 23 from the field.

James, who had 24 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists, became the first player in the NBA to rank in the top 10 in both the NBA’s all-time assists and scoring lists.

Already ranked number five in all-time points coming into Monday’s game against the Grizzlies, the superstar entered into a class of his own by recording his 8,525th career assist to surpass Andrew Miller and move into number 10 in all-time assists.

Top 10 in scoring, assists

James’ milestone assist came in the first quarter when he fed Kyle Kuzma for a layup to give the Lakers a 15-14 lead.

Brandon Ingram led the Lakers with 32 points, and Kuzma finished with 22 as Los Angeles dropped its fourth game in the last five and fell to 29-31 on the season.

James appears to be getting frustrated with the losing and talked about the Lakers lack of focus after the game.

“If you are still allowing distractions to affect the way you play, this is the wrong franchise to be a part of and you shouldn’t come in an be like, ‘Listen, I can’t do this’,” he said without naming names.

Also, Klay Thompson scored 26 points and DeMarcus Cousins had 24 as the two-time defending champion Golden State defeated the Charlotte Hornets 121-110 despite an off night from Stephen Curry.

Kevin Durant delivered 20 points and seven rebounds for the Warriors, who took a 1 1/2 game lead over the Denver Nuggets for the top spot in the Western Conference.

Golden State dropped their previous contest to Houston on Saturday but Monday’s victory means they have not lost back-to-back games since December 27.

It was a low scoring performance for Curry in his return to his hometown, finishing with 16 points on just four-of-14 shooting from three-point range.

Cody Zeller finished with a career-high 28 points to lead the Hornets, who have lost two consecutive games.

Charlotte rallied from a 17 point deficit in the fourth quarter to cut the Warriors lead to just seven with 3:24 left.