10. James Harden goes for 45 points against the Warriors
Down 3-0 and on their own home court, James Harden and the Rockets showed they weren’t going out without a fight in the 2015 NBA Playoffs. They faced their arch nemesis in the Golden State Warriors. With the odds stacked against them, Harden delivered a memorable performance.
He went off for a playoff career-high 45 points to prevent the sweep and giving Houston its first victory 128-115 in the 2015 Western Conference Finals. Harden had a slow second quarter in the first half with just two points after scoring 10 points in the opening frame but in the second half, he burst onto the scene to propel Houston.
The Rockets opened the game with a 45-point first quarter, as eight different players registered at least one point to open with a 23-point lead. Golden State would stage a comeback (of course), but Houston and company were prepared.
Harden poured in 33 points in the second half (16 in the third, 17 in the fourth) on 10-of-15 (66.7 percent) shooting from the floor and 5-of-8 (62.5 percent) from 3-point land to lift the Rockets to victory. It helped his supporting cast also scored in double figures in the win with Josh Smith finishing with 20 points.
They scored 128 points behind Harden’s 45 points, a team-best in the series. The Rockets scored over 100 points in just one other contest in the four-game series. They lost 3-1, but with Harden’s performance, it put the rest of the league on notice that Harden was approaching the MVP-status he’s enjoying now.