James Harden’s 15 greatest moments with the Houston Rockets
By Kurt Olson
Houston Rockets moment #2: Game-winner in Oakland OT Thriller
“..down to three, down to two, it’s a three…Good! Good! He got it! James Harden a flamethrower!”
Any Houston Rockets fan that was watching this absolute rollercoaster of a game will forever have Kevin Harlan’s play call etched into their minds. Any fan who was not watching this game live missed out on what is likely the most exciting play Harden has ever executed with Houston.
During a nationally televised game in early January of 2019, the Rockets found themselves pitted against the monster they were constantly trying to slay, the Golden State Warriors. And this game more than delivered in its role to provide an entertaining hardwood classic on the national stage.
Harden once again found himself without two of his best teammates while he was tasked with going to war with the star-studded Warriors, as Chris Paul and Eric Gordon did not play in this game. Little did he know he would also be required to go to overtime on this particular night, as he was putting up a fiercely competitive performance against Golden State.
With 30 seconds left in OT, the score differential had not changed from the end of the fourth quarter, as both teams were still tied after several back-and-forth buckets. The Warriors had the ball, and it seemed that the officials were determined to keep it that way until the Dubs scored a basket.
After roughly two seconds of dribbling, Kevin Durant made his move towards the basket, but interference from Harden and P.J. Tucker made Durant lose control of the ball, as it headed towards the boundary line. Durant then went on to position his entire body out of bounds as he grabbed the ball with one arm and launched it back towards his teammates.
Amazingly enough, none of the three officials apparently saw the 7’0 man plant both of his size 18 shoes firmly out of bounds while attempting to save the ball, as the ball made its way to Klay Thompson uninterrupted. It then went to Steph Curry, who drained the mid-range jumper that should never have been to put the Warriors up by two with 22 seconds left.
After struggling to create a decent enough open look for the final shot, Harden nearly lost the ball when a kickball was called on Curry with five seconds left on the clock. The Rockets decided to take a full timeout to design a last-ditch attempt to score.
When play resumed, Gerald Green was inbounding the ball while Harden ran toward it from the backcourt, clearly the guy the Rockets wanted taking the last shot. Once the ball was inbounded, Harden tried to free himself of the defense for an open look, but ended up being forced to take a deep three with two elite defenders in Draymond Green and Klay Thompson contesting his shot.
The fans in Oracle Arena would inhale a collective gasp as the shot went up shortly before the eruption of groans and shouts that would commence upon seeing the miracle shot go in. Harden’s teammates would embrace him with bravado and pride.
However, Harden was the last one in the building who was going to react to this shot. As his teammates embraced him, he directed them to remain focused, pointing out the one second that was still left in the game.
With all of their energy put towards playing their best defense for the span of one second, the Rockets prepared for the Warriors’ last attempt to steal this game. Fortunately for the fans in Houston, this attempt would not come to fruition, as Durant would miss the last shot of the game.
Injuries, overtime, and poor officiating were not going to stop James Harden from winning this game. Through sheer force of will and one miraculous shot, Harden did just that.
When the fans in Clutch City want to revisit Harden’s most exciting and spectacular moments during his tenure as a Rocket, this will always be one of, if not the very first moment they pull up to do so.
Next: No. 1