HOUSTON — James Harden had 53 points, 17 assists and 16 rebounds for his second straight triple-double, and the Houston Rockets beat the short-handed Knicks, 129-122, on Saturday night.
Harden set a career highs for points and matched his career best for assists. He passed his previous career best of 51 points on a 3-pointer with 1 minute 16 seconds left, leading to a standing ovation.
The Knicks got within 3 points several times in the fourth quarter — the last on a layup by Joakim Noah with about four minutes left. But Harden responded to Noah’s basket with three free throws before dishing to Ryan Anderson for a 3-pointer that put the Rockets up by 119-111.
Another 3-pointer by Anderson with less than two minutes left extended the lead to 124-113.
Harden, who had 30 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists a 140-116 victory against the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday, completed his eighth triple-double of the season when he grabbed his 10th rebound with about 10 minutes left in the third quarter.
It was the 17th triple-double of his career and his fourth career 50-point game.
The Knicks played without two starters. Kristaps Porzingis sat out with a sore Achilles’ tendon and Courtney Lee missed the game with a sore right wrist. They lost another starter at halftime: Carmelo Anthony missed the second half with a sore left knee. He had 7 points in the first half.
Anderson added 25 points for the Rockets, who have won four in a row. Brandon Jennings had a season-high 32 points for the Knicks, who have lost four straight.
A 3-pointer by Harden extended Houston’s lead to 18 points with about seven minutes left in the third. Jennings then had 9 points during a 15-5 run that trimmed Houston’s lead to 88-80 with less than four minutes remaining in the quarter, but Harden made two foul shots — he finished 16-for-18 from the line — to give the Rockets a 99-92 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
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