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No longer chasing 'The Dream'

By Associated Press in Houston | China Daily | Updated: 2016-12-16 07:03

No longer chasing 'The Dream'

Houston Rockets' James Harden is fouled by Sacramento Kings' Kosta Koufos in the second half of Wednesday's game in Houston. AP

Harden equals Olajuwon's mark for triple-doubles

James Harden's latest game left him tied in Houston's record books with perhaps the greatest Rocket of all.

Harden had a triple-double - 15 points, 14 assists and 11 rebounds - in just three quarters to lead the Rockets to their eighth straight win, 132-98 over the shorthanded Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night.

It was Harden's fifth triple-double this season and the 14th of his career, which ties him with Hakeem Olajuwon for most in franchise history.

After the game, Harden acknowledged how special it is to be mentioned in the same breath as the man known as "The Dream".

"Yes, obviously Hakeem is an all-time Rockets great, best to ever don a Rockets uniform and one of the best to ever play, period," Harden said. "So I'm just honored. It's a credit to my teammates and coaches who helped me."

Houston's winning streak is the longest current one in the NBA and the team's longest since 2014.

"The biggest thing I'm happy with is we had 40 assists on 50 buckets, so they're sharing the ball," coach Mike D'Antoni said. "James does what he does every night and there's just a lot of good stuff going on."

Harden's triple-double came in 29 minutes and 52 seconds of play.

Houston led by 15 points in the third quarter before using a 10-4 run to push it to 76-53 with about seven minutes left in the period.

The Rockets began to pour it on after that, outscoring the Kings 18-5 over the next three minutes to make it 94-58. Trevor Ariza scored the first five points in that span and capped it with a 3-pointer.

Harden grabbed his 10th rebound soon after that and got one more late in the third before heading to the bench to end his night.

The Kings played without three starters, with Rudy Gay (hip flexor strain) and Ben McLemore (left quadriceps contusion) out with injuries and DeMarcus Cousins getting a planned day of rest.

Sacramento was led by Garrett Temple's 20 points.

"There are times when teams are going to have to rest people and that gives other guys an opportunity to step up," Sacramento's Matt Barnes said.

"We have to weather the storm until Ben and Rudy get back. I think DeMarcus is playing in the next game. We have to pick up the pieces and continue to play hard and improve."

Ryan Anderson had 22 points and Sam Dekker had a career-high 19 for Houston.

Harden has thrived running D'Antoni's fast-paced offense and has piled up 53 assists in the past four games.

The Rockets finished with 22 3-pointers to give them at least 15 3s in three straight games, which ties a franchise record.

They came one short of tying the NBA record for 3s in a game.

With her son on the bench for the entire fourth quarter, Harden's mother, Monja Willis, implored Dekker to help the Rockets break the record.

"James' mom kept yelling at me," Dekker said. "She was laughing and she kept saying: 'You need two more for the record. Two more for the record.' But I didn't pay too much mind to it. We got out of there with a win and with the way we shoot the ball, I think we'll get pretty close again."

With Cousins sitting out to rest, Harden, who has played in 152 consecutive games, was asked why he never wants to take a night off to give his body a break.

"I know I'm not going to be playing basketball for the rest of my life," he said.

"I cherish moments like these and I love to play basketball ... I just love being on the court."

Utah shooters too accurate for Thunder

Rodney Hood scored 25 points to lead the Utah Jazz to a 109-89 victory over he Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night in a battle for first place in the NBA's Northwest Division.

Utah led from start to finish behind 58.3 percent shooting and showed why it's one of the best defensive teams in the league, holding the Thunder to 36.6 percent from the field.

Gordon Hayward scored 17 for the Jazz, who have won nine of 11. Rudy Gobert added 12 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks.

Russell Westbrook paced the Thunder with 27 points, six rebounds and five assists.

Enes Kanter scored 19 for Oklahoma City against his former team.

The Jazz took a 55-41 lead into halftime thanks to a 15-6 run in the second quarter. Hood sank a pair of 3-pointers to highlight the stretch.

The Thunder shot just 32.5 percent in the first half and had little offense outside of Westbrook's 14 points on 3-for-11 shooting.

The Jazz played their first game in four days after a stretch of eight in 13 days.

Utah's injury-ravaged roster got Derrick Favors (knee) back after a 13-game absence, and Hood (hamstring) returned after missing three games.

By Associated Press in Houston

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