James Harden scored 49 points, Russell Westbrook added 31 points and 11 rebounds, and the Houston Rockets erased a 14-point deficit and rallied for a 153-149 overtime win over the Dallas Mavericks on Friday in The Arena at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando.
The Rockets (41-24) claimed the season series with Dallas (40-28) two games to one by finally mustering some defensive might down the stretch of the fourth quarter.
Trailing 139-137, Houston got a tip-in of a Harden missed free throw from Robert Covington with 3.3 seconds left to force overtime.
Covington, following an 0-for-8 start from behind the arc, added a 3-pointer with 1:22 left in overtime to extend the Houston lead to 150-146.
By then, the Mavericks, who led 131-120 with 7:09 left in regulation, were out of gas, and when Luka Doncic fouled out via an offensive foul with 28.3 seconds left, the Rockets were headed for a win.
Doncic recorded his league-leading 15th triple-double with 28 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists while Kristaps Porzingis paced the Mavericks with 39 points and 16 rebounds. Trey Burke added 31 points on 8-of-10 3-point shooting off the bench while Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 24 points for Dallas.
Covington finished with 13 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks. Danuel House Jr. scored 20 for Houston, making 6 of 12 3-point attempts. Harden and Westbrook chipped in eight assists apiece.
Harden was sensational in the first quarter, pouring in 23 points on 6-for-6 shooting from the floor and 9-for-9 shooting at the line. He passed Hall of Fame guard Calvin Murphy (17,949 points) for second in franchise history in career scoring with a trey at the 2:51 mark of the opening period, doing so in his 607th game (Murphy played 1,002 games in a Rockets uniform).
But the Rockets set a lackadaisical defensive tone early, allowing Dallas to shoot 60.9 percent in the first quarter, paced by Porzingis’ 15 points in the period.
Despite the scoring burst from Harden, the Mavericks played Houston to a standstill in the first and surged ahead as Harden sat early in the second. When Harden re-entered the game at the 9:37 mark, the Mavericks started forcing the ball from his hands with a double team, and Harden attempted just two shots in the period.
Simultaneously, the Mavericks found complementary scoring for Porzingis, who entered the break with a team-high 21 points. Doncic closed the half with 14 points, six rebounds and five assists while Hardaway and Burke had 19 points apiece. Dallas scored a season-high 85 points in the first half and led by 10 at the break despite 43 total points from Harden and Westbrook.