With several of the greatest players in franchise history in the house Thursday night, Houston Rockets All-Star guard James Harden detonated for a career-high 50 points in a 118-108 win against the visiting Denver Nuggets.
Harden shot 12-of-27 from the field, while hitting 22 of 25 free-throw attempts. He also grabbed 10 rebounds and handed out four assists.
The NBA’s second-leading scorer had failed to reach the 20-point mark in three of his previous five games.
Per the Houston Chronicle:
As the champions of the Rockets’ past looked on, the Rockets of present rolled long enough for Hakeem Olajuwon to suggest that they could join them. But just another win would not be sufficient for the occasion. […] Fittingly, the 50-point performance – the ninth in Rockets history – was the first since Olajuwon’s 51 against the Celtics in 1996, when the Rockets that lined the court on Thursday reigned as NBA’s champions as they reigned at Toyota Center on Thursday.
“You know what, that’s a special group right there,” Harden said. “We’re trying to build something special like they did. To play a game in front of them was definitely an honor. Having those guys here made it a special night. It made it that much more special.”
“That was amazing, man, and it just looked so easy,” Rockets forward Trevor Ariza said. “It was like he just woke up and walked out there and had 50. That’s how easily he scored the basketball.” […] “Man, my teammates are amazing,” Harden said. “Trevor noticed what was going on in the game. He dribbled right at me and I just said, ‘I’m going to let it fly and it went in. Big shot. I think when I’m aggressive and in attack mode, it opens everything else up for my teammates as well. It was one of those nights I had it going.”