Published May 02, 2016
Houston, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - All James Harden could do was chuckle after missing two potentially game-sealing free throws with less than 10 seconds left.
He didn't miss many shots other than that Wednesday night.
Harden became the first Rockets player with two 50-point games in a season, netting a career-high 51 as Houston held on for a 115-111 win over the Sacramento Kings.
The MVP candidate made eight of his nine 3-pointers, tying a career high, went 11-of-13 from the foul line and 16-of-25 from the field overall to lift Houston to its 51st victory of the season.
"Shooting 8-of-9 from 3 is hard to do," Houston coach Kevin McHale said. "It's hard to do when you're by yourself, much less in a game when everything is contested."
The scintillating performance came less than two weeks after Harden went for 50 against the Denver Nuggets on March 19.
The Rockets' fifth win in six games tied them with the Memphis Grizzlies for the second seed in the Western Conference and first place in the Southwest Division.
Trevor Ariza scored 22 points and Terrence Jones added 16 points and seven boards in the triumph.
DeMarcus Cousins was four blocks shy of a quadruple-double, tallying 24 points, 21 rebounds and 10 assists for the Kings, who have dropped three straight on the heels of a four-game winning streak.
"I've never coached a guy that can put up so many things into a game," Kings coach George Karl said of Cousins.
A Harden three-point play staked the Rockets to a 112-102 advantage with 4:04 remaining, but the Kings didn't go away quietly.
A short Cousins jumper preceded a Ben McLemore 3-pointer, which cut the margin to 112-107. Harden sunk two bonus shots and Pablo Prigioni went 1-of-2 from the charity stripe to increase the cushion to 115-107 with 1:22 to play.
Jason Thompson put in two free throws and following a Jones turnover, Omri Casspi's layup with 52.2 ticks left cut Sacramento's deficit to four.
Corey Brewer's jumper didn't go at the other end, but neither did Casspi's 3- point attempt with just over 10 seconds to go. Harden then missed his two foul shots, but time ran out on the Kings' next possession.
Earlier, Houston raced out to a 13-3 start and led 35-25 after one quarter.
Casspi capped an extended 20-6 run in the second with a layup to trim the deficit to 54-53 late in the period and Houston was up 58-55 at the break.
The game was tied 72-72 in the third before the Rockets surged back ahead with a 19-5 burst and they headed into the fourth with a 97-86 cushion.
A 9-2 Kings spurt whittled the gap to 104-102, but eight straight points from Harden put Houston back up by 10.
Kyrie Irving is the only other NBA player this season with multiple 50-point games ... Harden turned the ball over seven times ... Houston scored 27 points off 21 Sacramento turnovers ... Cousins' six blocks tied a career high, as did Jones' six swats ... The only other player to go for 20-plus points, 20-plus rebounds, 10-plus assists and five-plus blocks is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.