SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — It was another vintage triple-double game for James Harden. The only number the Houston Rockets superstar seemed concerned about, though, was 54 — the number of wins the Rockets have this season.
Harden had 35 points, 15 assists and 11 rebounds, leading the Rockets to a 135-128 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Sunday. It was the 21st triple-double this season for Harden, second behind Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook, who broke Oscar Robertson's 56-year record with his 42nd in a victory over Denver.
Harden has scored 30 or more points and had double-digit assists in 29 games. In this one, he toyed with the Kings' defense, making five 3-pointers and shooting 9 of 22 overall. He converted 12 of 13 free throws and played 36 minutes, departing for good with the Rockets comfortably in front late in the fourth quarter.
The debate regarding who is the deserving MVP, Harden or Westbrook, will linger until the balloting is revealed after the season.
"I've done enough," said Harden, whose only bad stat was his 10 turnovers. "I thought winning was the most important thing. Period. That's what it's all about."
Harden had the Rockets' high-powered offense going strong in the opening half when he scored 21 points. He added nine more in the third quarter, when the Rockets continued making 3-pointers and led 107-89 heading into the fourth.
However, if Kings veteran guard Garrett Temple had an MVP vote, he would choose Westbrook.
"Honestly, man, as great as James has been playing the last week, Russ has summed it up, in my eyes," Temple said. "I mean he had another 50-point something and triple-double with a game-winner. Nobody has been talking about how clutch he's been. Russ is playing at another whole level right now. Russ is my MVP."
Ryan Anderson made six 3-pointers and had 21 for Houston. Clint Capela and Lou Williams each had 18 points, and Bobby Brown made four 3-pointers and had 16. The Rockets made 18 of 43 3-point attempts and shot 56 percent overall.