HOUSTON — James Harden finally beat his former team on Wednesday night.
It took the best game of his career to get it done.
Harden scored a career-high 46 points and Jeremy Lin added 29 as the Houston Rockets mounted a furious fourth-quarter comeback for a 122-119 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“I just told the guys on the court that we’ve got to do whatever it takes, we’ve got to get some stops together and make some shots," Harden said. “It’s not going to be easy, they’re a very good team. But we got some stops at the right time and guys made good shots."
Houston was down by 14 points with about seven minutes left. The Rockets used a 21-4 run to erase the deficit and take a 114-111 lead with 1:46 remaining. Harden stepped back under heavy pressure from Serge Ibaka to sink a 3 to tie it, before Lin connected on one seconds later to give the Rockets their first lead of the second half.
Harden, traded from Oklahoma City to Houston before the season, made a bucket before Ibaka made two free throws. Then came another 3 by Lin to extend the lead to 119-113.
A 3-pointer by Russell Westbrook got Oklahoma City within three points, but Lin made one of two free throws to secure the win.
It was Houston’s first win this season over the Thunder, who won both previous meetings, including a 30-point win in the last matchup. The loss extended Oklahoma City’s skid to three games.
“He’s a phenomenal offensive force," Houston coach Kevin McHale said of Harden. “He can drive it. He’s got the ability to shoot it ... to beat you off the bounce. I think he’s almost unguardable off the catch."
Kevin Durant summed up the fourth quarter succinctly.
“They got hot, we got cold," Durant said. “They played defense, we didn’t."
Thabo Sefolosha led the Thunder with 28 points and had six 3-pointers, both career highs. His previous career high was 22, which he reached twice, most recently in 2008.
Westbrook also scored 28 points and added 10 rebounds and eight assists. Durant had 16 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists for his second career triple-double.
Harden had struggled in the two previous games against his former team. He averaged 21 points in those games, but went only nine for 33 from the field and made just four 3-pointers.
Also on Wednesday:
INDIANAPOLIS — Paul George scored 27 points and Indiana powered its way closer to the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference by beating New York.
ATLANTA — Miami scored the first 13 points of the fourth quarter to erase Atlanta’s 10-point lead and the Heat, led by LeBron James’ 24 points, beat the Hawks to extend their season-best winning streak to eight games.
MILWAUKEE — Deron Williams scored 23 points and Brooklyn escaped after Milwaukee’s Monta Ellis missed on a chance to tie the game with three foul shots in the final seconds.
TORONTO — Zach Randolph had 17 points and 18 rebounds, Mike Conley scored 17 points and Memphis won its fifth straight.
CLEVELAND — Kyrie Irving scored 20 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter to lead Cleveland over New Orleans.
DALLAS — Shawn Marion and Elton Brand scored 17 apiece, Vince Carter again provided a spark off the bench and Dallas beat Orlando.
MINNEAPOLIS — Nikola Pekovic had 27 points and tied a career high with 18 rebounds to power Minnesota over Philadelphia.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Greg Monroe scored 10 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter, stepping up with Brandon Knight on the bench nursing a hyperextended right knee, to lead Detroit.
LOS ANGELES — Dwight Howard had 24 points and 12 rebounds in helping the Los Angeles Lakers to an emotional victory over Boston in their first game since the death of owner Jerry Buss.
OAKLAND, Calif. — Klay Thompson had 28 points and eight rebounds, David Lee finished with 19 points and 11 boards and Golden State snapped a season-high, six-game losing streak by beating Phoenix.