The Rockets still have a way to go to reach their goal of earning the top seed in the Western Conference.
But it seems far more attainable than it was just a month ago.
James Harden had 43 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists in 29 minutes — the first player in NBA history to have a 40-point triple-double in less than 30 minutes played — to lead the Rockets to a 141-113 rout of Cleveland in Houston on Friday night for their eighth win in 11 games.
“I think we’ve all had that in the back of our mind. It was just a far reach earlier in the season,” Harden said. “Now it’s pretty close. We’ve just got to continue to do what we’ve been doing. Playing well, taking care of opportunities like this.”
The Rockets, who were in 14th place in the West in early December, are 4½ games out of first place and tied with the Clippers for fifth.
Trail Blazers 127, Hornets 96: CJ McCollum had 30 points and Damian Lillard scored 20 before resting in the fourth quarter as host Portland won easily. The Blazers have won four straight.
Jazz 113, Lakers 95: Donovan Mitchell hit 4 of 5 three-point tries and scored 33 points as host Utah blitzed Los Angeles. Mitchell also had nine assists.
Pacers 121, Knicks 106: Domantas Sabonis had 22 points and 15 rebounds to cap his sizzling season at Madison Square Garden, and Indiana whipped New York.
Raptors 122, Nets 105: Kawhi Leonard had 20 points and 11 rebounds, Pascal Siakam scored 16 points and Toronto beat Brooklyn for its second seven-game home winning streak of the season.
Hawks 123, 76ers 121: John Collins hit a fadeaway jumper with 25 seconds left and Atlanta prevailed when Philadelphia flopped on its final plays to lead the Hawks past host Philadelphia.
Wizards 113, Bucks 106: Bradley Beal scored 32 points, and Tomas Satoransky had his first career triple-double to lead host Washington.
Mavericks 119, Timberwolves 115: Luka Doncic scored 29 points and hit the go-ahead three-pointer to lead Dallas over Minnesota, spoiling rookie head coach Ryan Saunders’ home debut.
Grizzlies’ Brooks out: Memphis swingman Dillon Brooks is expected to miss the remainder of the season because of a ruptured ligament in his right big toe. Brooks underwent surgery Friday.
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/James-Harden-has-triple-double-in-29-minutes-to-13528372.php.