SportsPulse: With another NBA All-Star Game in the books, Trysta Krick and Jeff Zillgitt turn our attention to the playoff push down the stretch.
LOS ANGELES — James Harden increased his 30-point scoring streak to 32 games on Thursday night, but there was no cause for celebration as the Houston Rockets fell to the Los Angeles Lakers 111-106.
Despite Harden continuing his historic run amassing points, it was largely a frustrating night, as he went cold in the fourth quarter, fouled out for the first time this season, and saw LeBron James spearhead a Lakers comeback from 19 points down.
Harden ended with exactly 30 but went just 11-for-24 shooting and made only two of his 10 three-point attempts. He did not hit the magic number until the final two minutes of a fourth quarter that saw a meager 16 points for Houston, who had looked dominant in the early stages at Staples Center.
GET MORE NBA: Exclusive content in our Click & Roll newsletter
PLAYOFF ROUNDTABLE: Will LeBron and the Lakers make it?
“You have just got to make it tough on him,” James said when asked how his team had managed to frustrate Harden. “We did a good job of that.”
Harden broke a tie with Wilt Chamberlain and took sole possession of the second-longest streak of 30-point games in NBA history. Chamberlain holds the record with 65 consecutive 30-point games during his legendary 1961-62 season in which he averaged an astonishing 50.4 points per game.
James led the Lakers with 29 points as they attempted to get a playoff run going in their first game following the All Star break. Los Angeles remains in 10th place in the Western Conference but is now 29-29 and on the heels of the Sacramento Kings.
“I need to be in that level right now. Knowing the circumstances we are in and kick starting something,” said James. “I like where I am at and will continue to get better. Tonight was a step in the right direction.”
The victory was the Lakers’ largest comeback win this season and sixth when trailing by 15 or more at any point. They trailed by 19 midway through the third quarter and by 14 with four minutes left. Los Angeles closed the period on a 9-2 run to pull within 90-83 heading into the fourth.
“It looked like we got our defensive mojo, our defensive confidence, back as the game went along,” said Lakers coach Luke Walton. “We had to get to different matchups, but we kept scrapping and found a way to give ourselves a chance.”
The Lakers still trailed 95-88 with under eight minutes left in the fourth. They responded with a 17-4 run over a six-minute span, with James scoring eight points. He put Los Angeles back up for good at 99-97 on a pair of free throws with with 4:15 left. The Lakers led by as many as eight in the final minute.
“It comes down to where LeBron makes big shots and we didn’t,” Houston coach Mike D’Antoni said. “We probably ran a little bit out of gas. It was a lot of little factors.”
Follow Martin Rogers on Twitter @RogersJourno. Contributing: Associated Press.