January 30, 2018, five years ago today: James Harden of the Houston Rockets produces the first triple-double in NBA history that includes a 60-point game in a 114-107 win over the Orlando Magic. Harden’s 60 points broke the Rockets’ 40-year-old franchise record, and he added 10 rebounds and 11 assists.He had 56 points in the final minute before drawing a foul while making a three-pointer. Harden then added the free throw to reach 60. He collected his 10th rebound a few seconds later.
Harden broke Calvin Murphy’s franchise scoring standard of 57 points, set in 1978 (Murphy happened to be in attendance at the game). Harden also added a game-high four steals and one block. Most of his success came from inside the arc, where he shot a blistering 14-for-16. Harden has since logged three more 60-point games, all with the Rockets (including a high of 61 twice). The most impressive was three seasons ago, when he put up 60 points in just three quarters and sat out the fourth in Houston’s 158-111 rout of the Atlanta Hawks.
Harden, now 33, played college hoops at Arizona State and was the Pac-10 Player of the Year in 2009. He was then selected No. 3 overall in the NBA Draft by the Oklahoma City Thunder. Harden was traded to Houston before the 2012-13 season, and a few months after his historic triple-double he was named NBA Most Valuable Player. He was later dealt to the Brooklyn Nets in 2021, and then to the Philadelphia 76ers almost a year ago. Harden is the highest-scoring lefthanded shooter in NBA history.
Luka Dončić did Harden one better two days after Christmas last month. Dončić recorded the first 60-20-10 game in NBA history in the Dallas Mavericks’ 126-121 overtime win against the New York Knicks. Dončić poured in 60 points, pulled down 21 rebounds and dished out 10 assists, breaking the Dallas franchise scoring record of 53 points held by Mavericks legend Dirk Nowitzki. Dončić, the 6-7 point guard from Slovenia is in his fifth NBA season after being taken third overall in the 2018 draft. “I’m tired as hell. I need a recovery beer,” Dončić said in a postgame interview that night.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra. He also anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK and one on News/Talk KBOI. His Scott Slant column runs every Wednesday.)