Paul George outguns James Harden as Oklahoma City Thunder rally past Houston Rockets

Reuters

Sunday 10 February 2019 08:58, UK

Orlando Thunder celebrate beating the Rockets
Image: Orlando Thunder celebrate beating the Rockets

Paul George outgunned James Harden in a match-up of MVP candidates as the Oklahoma City Thunder erased a 26-point deficit to escape with a 117-112 win at the Houston Rockets on Saturday.

George finished with a game-high 45 points plus 11 rebounds, torching the Houston defense with six three-pointers plus 15-for-18 free throws.

Game leaders

Oklahoma City Thunder

  • Points: Paul George - 45
  • Assists: Russell Westbrook - 11
  • Rebounds: Russell Westbrook - 12

 

Houston Rockets

  • Points: James Harden - 42
  • Assists: Chris Paul - 9
  • Rebounds: Kenneth Faried - 12

George's four free throws inside the final four seconds sealed the win after Russell Westbrook slipped through the defense to convert a layup and give the Thunder the lead for good at 113-112 with 26.9 seconds left.

Westbrook matched an NBA record set by Wilt Chamberlain with his ninth consecutive triple-double: 21 points, 12 rebounds, and 11 assists.

Houston Oklahoma City 3:10
Highlights of the Oklahoma City Thunder's clash with the Houston Rockets in Week 17 of the NBA.

Harden, meanwhile, totalled 42 points - his 29th consecutive game with at least 30 - but he missed a contested three-pointer after Westbrook pushed the Thunder ahead.

Chris Paul nearly posted a triple-double (18 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists) in his strongest performance since his return from a hamstring injury.

The Thunder matched the Rockets' 42-point second quarter with a 42-point third period, keyed by 7-for-12 three-point shooting and after committing just two turnovers in the first half, the Rockets had six in the third quarter and collapsed with 1-for-9 shooting from behind the arc.

James Harden scored at least 30 points for the 29th consecutive game
Image: James Harden scored at least 30 points for the 29th consecutive game

Still, the Rockets led 86-79 before Thunder guard Dennis Schroder closed the frame with 11 consecutive points to pull Oklahoma City even at 90-90 entering the fourth.

Less than three minutes into the final frame, the Thunder led 98-92, and the Rockets were left scrambling.

Saturday's results

  • Atlanta Hawks 120-129 Charlotte Hornets
  • Boston Celtics 112-123 LA Clippers
  • Chicago Bulls 125-134 Washington Wizards
  • Houston Rockets 112-117 Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Indiana Pacers 105-90 Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Memphis Grizzlies 99-90 New Orleans Pelicans
  • Milwaukee Bucks 83-103 Orlando Magic
  • New York Knicks 99-104 Toronto Raptors
  • Utah Jazz 125-105 San Antonio Spurs

Houston had earlier pushed their lead to 58-42 despite a mini-surge from Westbrook before landing what appeared to be a devastating blow: a 10-0 run that included three-pointers from Paul and Harden plus three Harden free throws.

But the Rockets were 12 of 24 from deep late in the first half, before missing five consecutive three-pointers to leave the door ajar for a comeback.

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