OAKLAND, Calif. — James Harden hit a contested 3-pointer with a second left in overtime and finished with his second triple-double of the week and fifth straight 40-point game, rallying the Houston Rockets past the Golden State Warriors 135-134 in a thriller between Western Conference powers Thursday night for their sixth straight victory.
Kevin Durant’s long 3-pointer missed as the buzzer sounded in what will go down as one of the best games this regular season — a rematch of the seven-game Western Conference finals won by two-time defending champion Golden State.
Stephen Curry put the Warriors ahead with 23.1 seconds remaining in OT on the way to 35 points — a basket that shouldn’t have counted because Durant was clearly out of bounds when he flung the ball back in.
Harden, however, had one more improbable, acrobatic moment still in him. He released the ball with at least four hands in his face for the game-winner.
The reigning MVP finished with 44 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds, while Clint Capela contributed 29 points and 21 rebounds for Houston.
Harden also hit 3-pointers at the 3:52 and 2:02 marks of OT in a game featuring dazzling displays on both ends by some of the game’s biggest stars.
Klay Thompson made a go-ahead layup with 40.6 seconds left in the extra period, then Harden tied it at 132 on a pair of free throws with 33.5 seconds left.
Durant added 26 points and seven rebounds.
Harden also had a triple-double Monday against Memphis of 43 points, 10 rebounds and 13 assists but he was disappointed with nine turnovers he thought gave the Grizzlies too many transition opportunities.
Including his 50-point game Dec. 13 against the Lakers, Harden has scored at least 30 in 11 straight.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr’s simple message about defending Harden, who went to the line 27 times Monday: “Don’t foul him!”
Harden shot five free throws in the first quarter Thursday and nine in all.
His jumper with 5:37 left in regulation cut Golden State’s lead to 112-111. He also got the Rockets close by knocking down two 3-pointers and assisting on another basket in the final 1:26 of the third as Houston cut its deficit to 98-92 going into the final quarter.
Thompson scored 26 points and hit consecutive 3-pointers late in the first half. After struggling to find his stroke from deep, Thompson is 10 for 17 on 3-pointers the past three games.
With his first 3 at the 7-minute mark of the opening period, Durant became the 32nd player in NBA history to reach 22,000 points.
Falling backward as he released the ball over Harden, Durant swished a 3 with 59.2 seconds left in the first half.
The cold-shooting Rockets fell behind 70-53 at halftime. Houston was just 6 of 23 from long range, 3 for 9 by Harden, while the Warriors shot 62.8 percent.