James Harden showed his class during overtime. Houston Rockets rode on Harden’s seven points scored in the OT to overcome Orlando Magic’s challenge on Wednesday. Rockets won the thriller 119-114 at Toyota Center.
In a closely fought contest where both teams tied 18 times and exhibited 22 lead changes, Houston thrived due to the presence of Dwight Howard and James Harden in their roster. They essayed back-to-back layups in overtime to turn the tide in the Rockets’ favor. They led 114-110.
Further resistance was there from Magic as Evan Fournier made a basket to cut the lead. But there was bearded Harden, who notched up a three-pointer to guide Houston Rockets home, 117-112.
The thriller continued as Shabazz Napier reduced the margin to 117-114, but the Magic side finally bowed down without scoring more points. Howard’s defensive brilliance kept the Houston citadel intact. Harden made a couple of free throws to extend the lead 119-114.
Fournier led Orlando Magic with 29 points and three assists. Howard had to stay on for the last 17 minutes to ensure Rockets’ victory. Howard shut down Orlando in the final quarter, further damage after the disastrous start Rockets made this season. Howard returned with 23 points and 14 rebounds.
“We had to get the win,” Rockets coach Kevin McHale said after his side posted the first win of the season. “The big fella was rebounding the ball on both sides. I had to get him out there and keep him out there.”