James Harden scored 49 points in a 153-149 overtime win over the Dallas Mavericks, but it was the Houston Rockets’ defensive effort that the former MVP wanted to highlight.
Another good offensive night from Harden saw him pass Calvin Murphy to become the player with the second most points in franchise history, behind only Hakeem Olajuwon.
With Russell Westbrook adding 31 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists, it was a great outing for Houston’s leading duo, although Harden quickly put off the collective performance on the other side of the field.
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“It’s not even about the points,” Harden told ESPN on the field after the game. “Our effort was continuous throughout the night against one of the best offenses in this league. They would be tough from the start of the match and we had to stick with it even if we were double digits. We kept fighting, especially on the defensive end and forced overtime. We wanted to stay with it and give ourselves a chance at the end of the game. We did. Our confidence is building defensively, especially in that fourth quarter. We kept pushing the pace, kept fighting. ”
Luka Doncic tripled the Mavs – his NBA-leading 15th of the season – but hit only one-for-nine from a three-point range, while Trey Burke added 31 points from the bench after eight of his 10 tries taken from beyond the arc.
“We are a young team. We still have a lot to learn, ”said Doncic. “We will certainly get better. I know we get together when it matters most, so I’m not worried about that. ”