Watch James Harden snatch a Rockets win from the jaws of defeat
Sacramento could’ve used DeMarcus Cousins’ interior defense against James Harden in the Houston Rockets’ 113-109 overtime loss on Thursday.
But his Thursday night was far from over. Harden would lead the Dwight Howard-less Rockets with 44 points and eight assists by the end of what would become a 113-109 overtime victory against a Sacramento team without DeMarcus Cousins. It wasn’t that the Kings were playing bad defense all night long. They held Houston to 40 percent shooting and Ben McLemore was literally going down trying. But they did break down at the most crucial times.
Harden took advantage. According to ESPN Stats and Info, Harden leads the NBA by shooting 7-for-11 over the last two seasons on shots that put the Rockets ahead or tie them with opponents in the final 24 seconds (with a minimum of 10 attempts).
Sacramento led 95-92 in the final minute after Harden left Derrick Williams wide open for a three. No, it wasn’t poor focus by Harden. He was helping out on a drive and didn’t get help in return. Nonetheless, Harden would save the Rockets, pumping in this quick-trigger three over Rudy Gay with 20 seconds left in the game to ultimately force overtime.
In the overtime period, Harden continued to roll. He scored seven points before the Kings could blink, once hitting a three and three times slicing through Sacramento’s defense without much issue. The Rockets started with a 10-1 all-Harden run in the overtime period that ended with this drive for the score.
It’s a fine example to show how easily he was getting to the rim.
Harden then found Patrick Beverley for a three-pointer and hit the final two free throws for Houston as the Rockets found the bottom of the net while nearly shooting their way back into the game.
Add an improved effort on defense into the equation, and it made sense Harden looked exhausted toward the end of the game. After all, Sacramento made him take 32 shots and get to the foul line 15 times to reach his totals. Playing catchup didn’t make it easy on him.
Still, the barrage of points looked anything but effortless.