RECAP: James Harden posts triple-double for Nets in return to Houston

Mar 3, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; James Harden #13 of the Brooklyn Nets is pressured by P.J. Tucker #17 of the Houston Rockets and Victor Oladipo #7 at Toyota Center on March 03, 2021 in Houston, Texas. Mandatory Credit: Bob Levey-POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports

James Harden recorded his eighth triple-double in his return to Houston, leading the visiting Brooklyn Nets to a 132-114 victory over the downtrodden Rockets on Wednesday at Toyota Center.

Harden finished with team highs in points (29) and assists (13) while adding 10 rebounds and three steals. Two nights after becoming the first player to record a 30-point, 10-rebound and 15-assist triple-double without a turnover, Harden committed eight turnovers against Houston.

That was a slight blemish on his resume. Harden orchestrated the Brooklyn offense masterfully, and when the Rockets cut what was a 23-point, third-quarter deficit to 105-97 on a John Wall 21-foot jumper with 7:55 left to play, Harden responded with a pair of 3-pointers to stifle the rally.

Wall finished with a season-high 36 points on the heels of his 32-point effort on Monday. Victor Oladipo added 33 points, including 18 in the third quarter, for the Rockets, but that tandem could not prevent Houston from lugging a 13-game losing skid into the All-Star break. The Rockets dressed only eight players against Brooklyn, and their small lineup was ravaged on the boards.

Brooklyn posted a 53-37 rebounding advantage and received a combined 26 points and 18 rebounds from centers DeAndre Jordan and Nicolas Claxton. The Nets recorded a decisive 58-30 margin on points in the paint while shooting 57.6 percent overall and 17 of 35 from deep.

Harden and Wall got off to quick starts in a first quarter that featured six ties and two lead changes. But a Harden 3 at the 6:45 mark of the second quarter extended the Brooklyn lead to 50-39 just prior to Jordan exerting control in the paint with back-to-back alley-oop dunks.

Harden paced four Nets in double figures by the intermission with 14 points. And while Wall had 21 at the break, Oladipo shot just 3 of 13 en route to his 11 first-half points. But Oladipo caught fire in the third quarter, draining all three of his 3-pointers as Houston clawed to within 10 points.

Kyrie Irving (24 points, six assists) and Bruce Brown (17 points, eight rebounds, seven assists) helped Brooklyn reclaim control before Harden landed the knockout blow against his old team.

–Field Level Media