NBA Preview: Rockets at Spurs

Rockets at Spurs

James Harden is coming for his first NBA MVP Award, and he’s not being subtle about it. Harden became the first player in NBA history to record a 60-point triple-double in a win over the Orlando Magic on Tuesday and will try to follow that up against a tougher opponent when the Rockets visit the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday.

“It’s a good feeling, I guess,” Harden told reporters after making history. “Just try to go out there and make an impact every single night on the game, however I can. Whether it’s scoring, rebounding, assists, steals, whatever it is. And tonight, I guess I was doing everything.” The All-Star guard is carrying a heavy load with teammates Chris Paul (groin), Trevor Ariza (hamstring) and Eric Gordon (back) dealing with injuries and went 19-of-30 from the field in 46 minutes against the Magic to finish with 60 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds and four steals. The Spurs don’t have an offensive weapon quite like Harden but still sit in third place in the Western Conference while leaning on LaMarcus Aldridge. The All-Star power forward went for 30 points in a 106-104 win over the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday — his fifth 30-plus outing in January.

TV: 8 p.m. ET, TNT

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ABOUT THE ROCKETS (36-13): Harden, who leads the NBA in scoring (31.6 points) and is third in assists (9.1), failed to reach 30 points in six consecutive games after coming back from a hamstring injury before going off on Tuesday. The 60 points also broke Calvin Murphy’s Houston franchise record of 57 and marked the fourth time this season that Harden scored at least 50. “I just gave it all I had tonight,” Harden told reporters. “We all did. We all fought for 48 minutes, we got key stops when we needed to, and we made big shots.”

ABOUT THE SPURS (34-19): San Antonio is missing its MVP candidate with Kawhi Leonard (quad) sidelined, but Kyle Anderson continues to improve in that spot. Anderson, 24, is starting in place of Leonard at small forward and broke out for a career regular-season high of 18 points on 9-of-12 shooting in Tuesday’s win. Point guard Dejounte Murray, 21, is getting a long look as well and went scoreless on 0-of-4 shooting Tuesday but showed off his broad skill set with 13 rebounds, seven assists and two blocks in 26 minutes.

BUZZER BEATERS

1. Spurs SG Danny Green is 0-of-13 from 3-point range over the last three games.

2. Paul, Ariza and Gordon are all questionable for Thursday.

3. Harden and Paul scored 28 points apiece in a 124-109 home win over San Antonio on Dec. 15.

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