James Harden reached historic milestones on two fronts Sunday.
Harden scored 38 points to match Kobe Bryant’s record run of 16 30-point games from the 2002-03 season. But the reigning MVP was just 1-for-17 on 3-pointers, tying for the most 3-point misses in a game in NBA history.
“The problem is you can’t rely on [Harden] to be superhuman every night,” Houston coach Mike D’Antoni said. “We have to have some contribution from other guys. I thought they came in with a lack of focus on the defensive end, and it carried over on the offensive end. We didn’t play well.”
Harden, who had 12 assists and nine rebounds, nearly had a triple-double at halftime, with 16 points, nine assists and seven rebounds. Orlando didn’t have the one-man show Houston did, but the Magic got scoring from all nine players and were down only 59-52 at halftime.
“We scored enough points to win,” Harden said. “We didn’t have our focus defensively, like we have the last few weeks. We gave them 70 points or something in the second half (actually, 64). You give a team like this some confidence and open shots, and they made them. It’s pretty simple.”
Harden matched Damon Stoudamire’s record of 16 missed 3-pointers in a game. Stoudamire went 5-for-21 in April 2005 against the Warriors.
Houston’s first half was almost exclusively Harden’s dribbling behind the top of the 3-point line and taking step-back 3-pointers or driving to the basket for layups or lobs to Clint Capela. Harden was 1-for-9 from 3-point land. Four of his assists were alley-oops to Capela for dunks.
“I thought we did well against him, except for the fouls,” Magic coach Steve Clifford said of Harden. “It’s not easy to guard him without fouling, and yet it’s necessary, but he also was 11-for-32, 1-for-17, and we didn’t make a lot of mistakes, except that.”
Austin Rivers added 25 points and Capela 17 points and 10 rebounds for Houston, which lost for only the fourth time in its past 17 games. But the Rockets could not overcome their short-handed, injury-depleted lineup and were put away by the Magic’s 16-2 run late in the fourth quarter.
Information from ESPN Stats & Information and The Associated Press was used in this report.