Torrid Harden lights up MSG with career-best 61

James Harden pours in 36 points in the first half on 11-of-21 shooting, his 21st straight game with 30 or more points. (1:53)

NEW YORK – On Tuesday, James Harden said he was still looking for his Madison Square Garden moment.

The Houston Rockets star created it on Wednesday night.

The reigning MVP wasted no time extending his 30-point scoring streak Wednesday night, putting himself in territory only Wilt Chamberlain had ever seen before.

Harden scored a career-high 61 points, tying Kobe Bryant’s record for a visiting opponent at the current Madison Square Garden, and the Rockets edged the New York Knicks 114-110 on Wednesday night.

“This is one of the historical buildings in the sport that we have,” Harden said. “Obviously the fans are one of the best that we have in this league. And so it’s pretty cool to come out here and put on a show for them.”

Harden made the clinching layup with 3.8 seconds remaining after the Knicks turned it over, capping his fifth 50-point game this season and a wild stretch of back-and-forth basketball across the final minutes.

Eric Gordon made the go-ahead 3-pointer with 9.8 seconds left when Houston couldn’t get the ball to Harden, the NBA’s leading scorer who earlier had moved past Wilt Chamberlain into fourth place in NBA history with his 21st consecutive 30-point game.

Houston’s James Harden on Thursday became the fifth player in NBA history to have multiple career 60-point games.

Harden finished 17-of-38 from the floor. He was only 5-of-20 on 3-pointers but was 22-of-25 from the line and grabbed 15 rebounds.

He said afterward that he heard both boos and cheers from the Madison Square Garden crowd at different points throughout his historic night.

“They couldn’t figure out what they wanted to do,” he said with a laugh. “I appreciate them, honestly. Tonight, they kept me going and made the game exciting for me … That’s why this place is special. I’m just happy to give them 61.”

Carmelo Anthony holds the overall record at the current MSG with 62 points.

Harden had surpassed his average of 35.7 points by halftime, putting back the miss of his own shot to beat the buzzer and give himself 36 points and nine rebounds.

Chamberlain still has all three 30-point streaks that were longer. His record is 65 straight, and he also had streaks of 31 and 25 games.

ESPN’s Ian Begley and The Associated Press contributed to this report.