HOUSTON — James Harden became the first player in NBA history to score 60 points as part of a triple-double as the short-handed Houston Rockets beat the Orlando Magic 114-107 on Tuesday night.
Harden scored 18 points in the fourth quarter to eclipse the 57 points Calvin Murphy scored in 1978 to break Houston’s single-game scoring record. After Harden broke the record, cameras in the arena showed a shot of Murphy, who works on the television broadcast team, smiling and clapping for the Beard, who also had 10 rebounds and 11 assists.
The game was tied at 107 after a basket by Marreese Speights with just under four minutes to play. Neither team scored for more than two minutes after that before Harden took over, scoring the next six points to make it 113-107 with 45 seconds left.
He set the scoring mark when he stepped back and made a 3-pointer before crashing to the court after being fouled by Mario Hezonja. He then made the free throw to give him 60 points and bringing the crowd to its feet.
Harden, who also had four steals and a block, grabbed his 10th rebounds a few seconds later to give him his third triple double this season. He made 17 of 18 free throws and was 19 of 30 from the floor with five 3 pointers.
Hezonja and Speights scored 17 points each for the Magic, who dropped their third straight.
The Rockets started the game without Chris Paul, who has a sore groin, and Trevor Ariza, who is dealing with a strained hamstring. They lost another player when Eric Gordon, who is second on the team in scoring with 19.5 points a game, left early in the second quarter with lower back stiffness.
Harden’s big night came as he played a season-high 46 minutes and 26 seconds with Houston missing so many players.
It was his fourth 50-point game this season and Tuesday’s performance bested his previous career-high of 56 points set in November against Utah.
Orlando led by two points with about 9 1/2 minutes left before the Rockets used a 10-4 run to make it 101-97 with about seven minutes to go. Harden made two 3-pointers in that stretch, and wowed the crowd on the second one that he came as the shot clock was about to expire and with Shelvin Mack right in his face.
Houston didn’t lead for long though, as Speights was fouled while making a 3-pointer and added the free throw to tie it seconds later.
The Magic had a 2-point lead with about 5 1/2 minutes left before Houston used a 6-2 run, with all its points from Harden, to take a 107-105 lead with about four minutes left.
The Rockets were up by 1 early in the third quarter when Harden scored all of the team’s points in a 6-2 spurt that made it 64-59. Harden capped that run with his first 3-pointer of the game after missing all seven tries in the first half.
Houston had pushed its lead to 7 later in the third after scoring four quick points. But the Magic used a 7-2 run, highlighted by a 3-pointer by Mario Hezonja, to get within 72-70 midway through the quarter.
The Magic tied it on a basket by Jonathon Simmons with about four minutes left in the third, but the Rockets used a 5-2 run to regain the lead, 83-80.
Speights made a 3-pointer to put Orlando back on top with just under a minute remaining in the quarter, but Houston scored the last four points of the quarter to take a 90-88 lead into the fourth.
Harden found Luc Mbah a Moute for a layup for the first basket in that span and added a jump shot just before the shot clock expired for the other points.
Harden piled up 16 points in the first quarter and had 24 by halftime despite his early 3-point shooting woes.
Orlando led 55-54 at halftime.
Magic: Aaron Gordon missed the game with an injury to his left hip that he suffered on Saturday night. He will likely sit out Wednesday as well. … Simmons and Mack added 15 points each.
Rockets: Ariza injured his left hamstring on Sunday. … Coach Mike D’Antoni said he doesn’t expect Paul to miss much time with his injury. … Clint Capela finished with 12 points and 13 rebounds.
Magic: Host Lakers on Wednesday night.
Rockets: Visit San Antonio Thursday night.