Breakfast Special: James Harden Is On Another Level

James Harden has done something that your humble columnist hasn’t managed to pull off in thousands of hours of playing NBA Live and 2K over the years.

That’s how utterly ridiculous his 60-point triple-double, which broke the record held by Russell Westbrook (and previously held for almost 50 years by Wilt Chamberlain) for points while recording a triple-double in a game.

The perhaps even wilder thing about all this is that Harden did it in 46 minutes of a relatively slow-paced game; the Rockets’ 114-107 win over Orlando was played at an estimated pace of only 93.3, snail-like by today’s standards and downright stop-and-go traffic compared to Wilt’s day; the night Chamberlain scored 100 points, the estimated pace of that game was about 142 possessions.

Still, one stat jumps out at the casual observer:

What on earth were the Rockets doing when Harden didn’t have the ball?

After all, the entire team scored just 54 points, and if you take Harden’s 11 assists out of it, that’s no more than 32 points the rest of the team generated by itself, and it’s less than that when you consider that some of those assists led to three-point shots; we are, after all, talking about Houston here.

Oh, and thanks to the referees, Harden was 17-of-18 from the line. Because of course he was.

Orlando, for their part, went 8-of-10 from the line as a team. They shot 50.6 percent from the field, 48.4 from three, and did a great job containing the Rockets’ high-powered offense…

…except for the refrain of “Who’s guarding number 13?” Who, oh by the way, also set the Houston franchise record for points in a game.

Highlights for the man of the match:

Kevin Love Is Snakebitten

Love, who has borne the brunt of the blame for Cleveland’s disaster movie season even though he’s easily the second-best player on the team, couldn’t even crack “biggest story of the night” when he broke his flipping hand.

That’s snakebitten for you.

Detroit, who were without Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, and HERO OF SERBIA Boban Marjanovic, and who don’t have Blake Griffin yet, managed a 125-114 win over the Cavs at home Tuesday night.

The starting lineup combined for 108 points, with four of them in double figures and the fifth, Ish Smith, with 19.

Newly-minted All-Star Andre Drummond, who replaced the injured John Wall, not only had 21 points but also hauled in 22 rebounds as well.

LeBron James had 21 to lead Cleveland, while Isaiah Thomas had a weird stat line with 19 points on 3-of-10 shooting but 12-of-13 from the free throw line, one of the oddest ways you can salvage a garbage night with your shot.

Detroit shot 52.7 percent from the field, won the turnover battle 15-10, and hit 11 more shots than the Cavs did from the floor; if it weren’t for the whistle-happy refs, this wouldn’t have been as close as it was. Cleveland got destroyed by a team snapping an eight-game losing streak without any of its stars past or present.

Drummond is your man of the match:

Holy Jazz, Batman, What A Win!

Utah didn’t just beat Golden State, an impressive feat in and of itself.

Utah SMASHED Golden State Incredible Hulk-style, winning 129-99 at home, and this despite Klay Thompson having a fantastic game and going off for 27 points on 12-of-17 shooting.

Ricky Rubio (!) went nuts for 9-of-16 shooting, led the team in scoring with 23, posted a plus-31 plus/minus, dished 11 assists, and paced a Jazz team that shot 58.2 percent from the field overall and hit 14 of their 28 three-point attempts.

In other words, the perfect storm.

The Jazz also took advantage of Golden State’s biggest weakness, winning the turnover battle 19-11, held the Warriors to 5-of-25 (20 percent) shooting beyond the arc, and just generally forced the Dubs to play inefficient, two-point basketball throughout, which is a recipe for beating any team on any night anywhere.

Rubio, in uniforms that looked like something right out of the 70s, is your man of the match:

Lightning Round!

The Thunder couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn in shooting 37.5 percent; they lost to Washington 102-96 behind 25 from Otto Porter and 21 from Bradley Beal:

The Knicks beat Brooklyn in one of the biggest Who Gives A Crap rivalry games going in the NBA; New York won 111-95 at Madison Square Garden. Kristaps Porzingis had 28 while shooting 6-of-8 on threes in the win, but it was Enes Kanter‘s 20/20 game that netted man of the match honors:

DeMar DeRozan generated a stat line similar to the one Thomas barfed out for the Cavs, as he shot 6-of-18 but bailed out his scoring efficiency at the free throw line, shooting 10-of-11 there. He had 23 points overall, and the Raptors came from behind in the fourth quarter to beat Minnesota 109-104 at home.

But this was a team win, so you get team highlights:

Zach Randolph led Sacramento with 25, the Kings out-rebounded New Orleans 47-35, and Sacramento got 20 more shots off from the field than did the Pelicans.

The Pellies look like free fall is their next logical step without Boogie, as New Orleans lost at home 114-103:

LaMarcus Aldridge is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside a Dark Ages game, but 30 points on 14-of-23 shooting is pretty decent in any era.

It was behind that, and thanks to another heat-check choke from Will Barton (two in as many games…yikes!) that the Spurs were able to beat the Nuggets 106-104 and run their NBA-best home record to 22-4.

San Antonio now has a 2.5-game cushion over Minnesota and three over Oklahoma City with the Rodeo Road Trip still looming over their heads; they’re 12-15 on the road.

Manu Ginobili‘s 14 off the bench netted him the highlight honors:

And finally, the Clippers’ charge toward the top eight took a step in the wrong direction as they lost to the Trail Blazers at home 104-96.

Damian Lillard was electric, completing the “good things come in threes” triumvirate alongside Thomas and DeRozan, rescuing a 42.9 percent shooting night (6-of-14) at the free throw line (11-of-11) to get to a hyper-efficient 28 points:

Man, the Internet loved that Clippers/Pistons trade breakdown yesterday. Sometimes “generating traffic” is as easy as finding a juicy story. So to all those of you who discovered Pace and Space, we’ve got a ton to love here, so stay tuned and thanks for reading!