James Harden’s big performance powers Rockets past Suns

HOUSTON, TX - MARCH 15 : Jamal Crawford #11 of the Phoenix Suns plays defense against during the game against James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets on March 15, 2019 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images/AFP

On Friday night, James Harden recorded an impressive stat line to help his Houston Rockets win 108-102 over the Phoenix Suns. Harden’s performance achieved a bit of NBA history in the process too.

According to ESPN’s report, Harden scored 41 points, collected nine rebounds, and dished out 11 assists for a near triple-double. In addition, Harden had six steals and three blocks to help with the victory. His stat line of at least 40 points, 10 assists, five steals, and three blocks in an NBA game is the first known stat line of that nature since steals and blocks started to get recorded back in 1973-74.

On the opposing side, Devin Booker scored 29 points to lead the visiting Suns. Booker also grabbed five rebounds and gave out seven assists to teammates. Kelly Oubre Jr. added 22 points while rookie DeAndre Ayton racked up another double-double in his young career. Ayton finished with 17 points and 14 rebounds in the loss.

The Phoenix Suns didn’t go away easily either. Despite winning just 16 games all season they’ve managed to defeat other teams with contender status for the upcoming NBA Playoffs. The Suns actually started off the first quarter with a 31-26 lead and were ahead by two points at the half. However, Houston matched them 28-28 in the third and pulled away with a 25-17 fourth quarter.

Helping James Harden out in the Rockets’ win was his teammate Eric Gordon with 19 points, four rebounds, and three assists. Former G League star Danuel House Jr. also chipped in 18, while Clint Capela had 14 points along with 11 boards.

With the latest victory, Houston improved their overall record to 43-26. They’re still in third place in the Western Conference and trailing the Denver Nuggets by three games for third. Next up, Harden and the Rockets battle the Minnesota Timberwolves. That game is scheduled for 8 p.m. local time on Sunday night via ESPN.

Meanwhile, the Phoenix Suns (16-54) are still headed towards the NBA Draft lottery and the potential Zion Williamson sweepstakes. The Suns have the league’s second-worst record behind the New York Knicks. So far, they’re the only Western Conference team statistically eliminated from the NBA Playoffs. They’ll try to pick up win No. 17 on Saturday night as they visit the New Orleans Pelicans (6 p.m. local time).