Another 40-point game for Harden, another triple-double for Westbrook


Russell Westbrook scored one point fewer than James Harden on Sunday but climbed slightly closer to the NBA’s scoring leader.

Harden finished with 41 points to pace the Houston Rockets to a 115-112 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Because Westbrook has played in 14 fewer games than Harden, the Thunder guard’s 40 points had a larger impact on his season average than Westbrook’s point total.

They entered the game separated by 0.05 points per game (27.51 to 27.46). Now, they’re separated by 0.02 points per game: Harden at 27.68, Westbrook at 27.66.

These two players are on pace to establish the closest scoring race in NBA history. That distinction is now held by George Gervin and David Thompson, who finished the season separated by 0.07 points per game in 1977-78.

Harden with another 40-point game

It was Harden’s NBA-high 10th game with 40 or more points this season. Harden scored or assisted on the Rockets’ last six field goals.

Second on the list of 40-point games this season is Westbrook, with eight.

Westbrook finished with 11 rebounds and 13 assists for his NBA-leading 11th triple-double. The Thunder have a 7-4 record when he has a triple-double.

It was Westbrook’s ninth triple-double since the All-Star break -- three times as many as any other player in that time this season (Evan Turner has three).

Westbrook is the first player with nine triple-doubles after the All-Star break since Grant Hill in 1996-97.

Westbrook, Hill and Michael Jordan (12 in 1988-89) are the only players in the last 40 seasons with nine triple-doubles after the All-Star break

Westbrook finished with 40 points in a loss for the sixth time this season. It was his third 40-point triple-double this season (the rest of the NBA has none). He is the first player with three 40-point triple-doubles in a season since Jordan in 1988-89.

Harden had six rebounds and six assists. The Elias Sports Bureau notes that Sunday’s game marked the first time two opposing players had at least 40 points, five rebounds and five assists in a non-overtime game since April 1, 2006, when LeBron James and Dwyane Wade did so against each other.