This past Thursday, the Houston Rockets received another 50-point performance from James Harden in a 126-111 victory over the visiting Los Angeles Lakers. It was also a triple-double for the Rockets star, and a frustrating night for the Lakers trying to stop him. Los Angeles was unable to prevent the reigning NBA MVP from scoring in what Lonzo Ball called a “tight” game in terms of the officiating.
Per Bleacher Report, Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni was asked about the Los Angeles Lakers putting their hands behind their backs as a sort of protest against how the calls were made with regards to Harden. D’Antoni called it “cute,” adding that they can’t “guard [Harden] with your hands out or with your hands behind you.”
Lakers guard Lonzo Ball said after the game he was trying “not to foul today” but the officials were calling the game “tight.” He added it’s “very tough” to try to stay in front of Harden on defense “with your hands like that.” Ball even said “You can’t touch them” in reference to playing against the Rockets.
The Lakers starters had a combined 16 fouls for the game, with guard Josh Hart leading the way with five of them. Kyle Kuzma had four while Ball picked up three fouls throughout the game. LeBron James managed to keep himself out of any foul trouble with just one. In terms of the overall foul situation, the game finished with 24 fouls called on Rockets compared to just 21 for the Lakers. Harden had the most trips to the line of any player in the game, though.
The 50-point triple-double gave James Harden his fourth such game and ownership of the most 50-point triple-doubles in NBA history. The All-Star guard was 14-for-26 with an 18-for-19 night from the free throw line. Basically, the Rockets star has been scoring hot for his last three games with 38 points scored on average and 50.8 percent field goal shooting. He’s also averaging a career-high 30.8 points per game as the current NBA scoring leader.
Harden’s big performance to help get the win was much-needed for a struggling Houston team. They’re sitting in last place in their division at 13-14 overall but can begin to climb up with a series of victories. The next-closest teams are the New Orleans Pelicans (15-15) and San Antonio Spurs (15-14).
The Houston Rockets will take on the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday night in an away game. That contest is set for 7 p.m. local time (8 p.m. Eastern Time). It’s unknown which Grizzlies players will be tasked with trying to stop Harden but based on Mike D’Antoni’s comments, it shouldn’t matter much, hands or no hands.