Harden scores 45 to power Rockets over Hawks
ATLANTA, Georgia (AFP) –
James Harden, traded a week ago from NBA runner-up Oklahoma City, scored a career-high 45 points to power the Houston Rockets over host Atlanta 109-102.
Harden, last year’s NBA Sixth Man of the Year as the league’s top reserve player, poured in 37 points in his Rockets debut two nights earlier in a victory at Detroit and made his second Houston start even more spectacular.
A member of the US Olympic gold medal squad, Harden made 14-for-19 shots from the field and sank 15-of-17 free throws while grabbing seven rebounds. He scored 18 points in the fourth quarter, when he was 12-of-13 from the line.
Asian-American star Jeremy Lin, the NBA’s first US player of Taiwan and Chinese heritage, added 21 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists while Omer Asik pulled down 19 rebounds and Marcus Morris scored 17 points off the bench.
The Rockets had not won their first two games of a season since 2008.
Atlanta was led by 22 points from reserve Lou Williams while Josh Smith had 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Hawks in their season opener.