Courtney Lee made a three-pointer with 15.1 seconds left to put the Houston Rockets ahead of the Oklahoma City Thunder 104-103, stunning everyone in the building.
Kevin Durant then missed a very tough 20-footer with two seconds left and Chandler Parsons all over him. Serge Ibaka rebounded the miss with enough time for a putback and what looked like a chance to win it, was not as the Rockets defense recovered to contest Ibaka enough forcing the miss.
The Oklahoma City Thunder led 102-91 with 2:29 left in the game. They waste an amazing effort from James Harden in the fourth quarter.
Harden ran the show for the first nine minutes of the fourth quarter and did so flawlessly. He scored nine points and orchestrated a perfect offensive attack via the pick-and-roll with Kendrick Perkins.
Even when Durant and Russell Westbrook returned to the game Harden continued to run the point and pick apart the Rockets defense. The Thunder would score on six straight possessions before finally Harden had a hiccup and turned the ball over with 3:44 left in the game.
Harden appeared winded at this point and the Thunder went back to Durant and Westbrook on offense. It did not work.
The top scoring duo in the league only scored four points in the fourth quarter, partly because of Harden running the show and partly because they just didn’t have it in the final minutes.
Westbrook was side-tracked by a pesky Goran Dragic and even picked up a technical with 48 seconds left in the game. In the final 1:05 Westbrook also committed two costly turnovers.
When it came down to taking the last shot down by one with 15 seconds left, it never felt good for the Thunder faithful. Durant was forced out to beyond 30-feet to receive the handoff from Westbrook. He lost his dribble trying to drive on Parsons and then hoisted up a prayer when he still had a few ticks left to spare.
The Rockets comeback happened so fast and truly stunned everyone, including the Thunder players.
The Thunder probably should have gone back to Harden a time or two in the last three minutes but he did appear exhausted having carried the load for much of the fourth and playing the last 18 minutes of the game.
That can be the problem with Harden coming off the bench is that he is basically asked to play 18 straight minutes without a break and might not be as fresh as he could be in the final minutes.
Either way Durant and Westbrook had their chances and the Thunder should not have let this one slip away.
Durant led the Thunder with 28 points but had just one in the fourth. Westbrook had 19 and Harden 16 points and seven assists.
Parsons and Lee each led Houston with 21 points.
The Thunder (32-10) are off tomorrow then will hit the road for the first time in six games Thursday night to take on Denver (23-19).