The Houston guard scored eight of his game-high 41 points in
overtime, including a key jumper late, and the Rockets beat the
Denver Nuggets 115-111 Wednesday night.
Harden added a season-high 10 assists, and center Dwight Howard had
24 points and 16 rebounds for Houston.
Harden was the catalyst, amassing his 41 points on 11-of-21 shooting
from the floor. He was 1-for-7 from 3-point range but made up for it
by hitting 18 of 21 free throws.
He hit both of his field-goal attempts in overtime, including a
step-back 20-footer with 1:16 left that gave the Rockets a 109-105
"I couldn't throw a rock in the ocean in the first 40-plus minutes
of the game," Harden said. "I work on my shot every day, and
confidence is a big thing. My teammates had confidence for me to
shoot the basketball, and I shot it."
His late success propelled the Rockets (19-5) to their seventh win
in eight games.
The last two victories came against Denver, but unlike Saturday,
this one was close down the stretch until Houston took control.
After Harden's shot, the Nuggets had a chance to tie, but guard
Arron Afflalo, whose 3-pointer sent the game into overtime, missed a
free throw with 24.8 seconds left.
Harden was fouled and hit two free throws, and then Denver forward
Danilo Gallinari missed a 3-pointer from the corner.
"That's exactly how we drew it up," Denver guard Ty Lawson said. "We
wanted to have a screen with Arron and (Gallinari). They made a
mistake, and he had a wide-open three. Gallo had a chance, just
didn't make it."
Houston guard Patrick Beverley hit four free throws in the final 23
seconds to seal it.
Forward Wilson Chandler led Denver (10-15) with 23 points, and
Afflalo had 22. Lawson had 12 points and 16 assists for the slumping
Nuggets, who lost for the seventh time in eight games.
"If we had to do it all over again, I'd take the same looks we got,"
Nuggets coach Brian Shaw said. "Gallo got a good look that would
have tied the game. We defended, we scrapped, and we couldn't keep
them off the free-throw line. These kinds of losses I can stomach a
little bit better."
The Rockets took a five-point lead late in the fourth quarter on a
3-pointer by forward Trevor Ariza and a layup by Howard.
The Nuggets tied it at 92 on forward Darrell Arthur's 3-pointer with
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Howard hit just one of four free throws, and Afflalo's layup and
forward Kenneth Faried's follow slam gave Denver a 96-93 lead with
The Rockets rallied, and Harden's 3-pointer with 10.4 seconds
left gave Houston a 98-96 lead. Harden missed a chance to ice it
when he split a pair of free throws with 6.5 seconds left.
Afflalo took advantage of the opening and hit a 27-footer at buzzer
to send it into overtime tied at 99.
"They had no timeouts, and I wanted to foul," Houston coach Kevin
McHale said. "We should have fouled before he got to half-court. He
made a helluva shot. I'm glad the guys bailed us out in overtime."
Houston improved to 8-0 in games decided by five points or fewer.
"This team doesn't give up," McHale said. "We're resilient, we've
been that way all year, and it's just an opportunity for us to win
Harden kept the Rockets in it with 23 points in the first half, 13
of which came from the foul line.
Denver led by 16 after Faried, back after missing a game with a
right ankle strain, hit a running jumper with 3:48 left in the
Harden had six points in the third quarter to get the Rockets to
within 78-75 heading into the fourth.
NOTES: Rockets G Jason Terry left the team for Dallas to be with his
wife, who is expecting the couple's fifth child. ... Nuggets F
Danilo Gallinari returned to action after missing the previous three
games with a bruised right knee. ... Houston G Isaiah Canaan
returned to action, going scoreless in seven minutes. The
second-year player from Murray State missed seven games with a
sprained right ankle. ... Nuggets coach Brian Shaw and Houston coach
Kevin McHale were teammates with Boston in the late 1980s and early
1990s. ... Rockets G Francisco Garcia missed his fourth consecutive
game due to a right calf strain.
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