9. “He’s Done it Again!”
May 6th, 2019 – The first of three step backs against the Golden State Warriors on this list is from the 2019 NBA playoffs. Down two games to one, The Beard made it his mission to tie up the series in the Toyota Center.
In the second quarter, Harden drilled a beautiful step back three against a top defender in Klay Thompson. But, this time it was a four-point play. The play ignited the home crowd and propelled the team to an eventual home victory in Game 4 of the 2019 Western Conference Semifinals.
8. Dante Exum Doesn’t Stand a Chance
November 19th, 2016 – In a November matchup with the Utah Jazz, the Rockets were well on the way to a victory, up by eight points with 20 seconds left in the game. With five seconds left on the shot clock, James Harden began to make his move.
He went on to hit one of the best step backs of his career against Dante Exum, who didn’t stand a chance against the Beard. The crossover step back sent Exum all the way to the free-throw line, allowing Harden to drill the game sealer at home. James Harden called game the Harden way.
7. Harden’s Buzzer Beater Over P.J. Tucker
January 23, 2015 – Before he was hitting corner threes for the Houston Rockets, P.J Tucker was a member of the Phoenix Suns. Tucker had some history against Houston but for all the wrong reasons.
In a close game that went down to the wire, James Harden took it upon himself to end the game. While in isolation against Tucker, Harden drove left and then stepped back to hit the mid-range jumper as the buzzer sounded in Phoenix. Yes, I know what you’re thinking. James Harden actually used to shoot mid-range jump shots.
I wonder if this was ever talked about in the locker room once Tucker signed with Houston in 2017. I’m sure Harden didn’t let him hear the end of it.
Fun fact: This is the only entry on the list that is not a 3-pointer.