James Harden and Jeremy Lin scored a total of 75 points between then as the Houston Rockets downed Harden’s former team, the Oklahoma City Thunder, 122-119 on Wednesday.
Harden, who was traded to Houston before the start of the season, scored a career-high 46 points on 14-for-19 shooting, including 16 points in the fourth quarter, to lead the Rockets in a late-game rally for a comeback victory in Houston, Texas.
Lin chipped in 29 points on 12-for-22 shooting, with eight assists and six rebounds.
The game was the first victory of the season for the Rockets over the Thunder, who had won both previous encounters, including a 30-point victory in their last meeting. It also extended the 39-15 Thunder’s losing streak to three.
On Harden’s late-game stretch, Lin said that “if he is not up for MVP consideration, I mean, I don’t know what else he needs to do.”
“He made every single big play down the stretch and even the shots that I was able to have, they were created because of him,” he was quoted as saying on the Rockets’ official Web site.
The Rockets were trailing 84-92 with less than three seconds left in the third quarter when Harden made a three-pointer from beyond halfcourt to cut the deficit to five points.
The Lin-Harden duo dominated the last two minutes of the game. A three-point shot by Harden tied the score at 111-111 with 2:21 to go in the fourth quarter, and another by Lin gave the Rockets a three-point lead. Three free throws by the duo in the last 30 seconds helped put the game away.
Thunder’s Kevin Durant finished with a triple-double — 16 points, 11 assists and 12 rebounds. Russell Westbrook and Thabo Sefolosha each added a game-high 28 points for the Thunder.
Meanwhile, Dwight Howard had 24 points and 12 rebounds to help the Los Angeles Lakers to an emotional 113-99 victory over the Boston Celtics in their first game since the death of owner Jerry Buss.
Kobe Bryant added 16 points, Steve Nash and Earl Clark had 14 each, while Metta World Peace had 12 in a game that surely would have delighted Buss, who always loved to win, but especially liked beating the Celtics.
The Lakers won their most recent NBA championship — and last under Buss — in 2010, defeating the Celtics 4-3 in the finals. Buss died on Monday at 80 after an 18-month struggle with cancer.
Paul Pierce scored 26 points for the Celtics, who lost their third game in a row away from home. Courtney Lee added 20 points and Kevin Garnett had 12.
Indiana’s Paul George scored 27 points as the Pacers powered their way closer to the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference with a convincing 125-91 win over the New York Knicks.
David West had 18 points and nine rebounds, while Lance Stephenson added 14 points for Indiana, who pulled within a half-game of the Knicks for second place in the East.
Tyson Chandler led New York with 19 points and 11 rebounds, while Carmelo Anthony finished with 15 points.
Miami scored the first 13 points of the fourth quarter to erase Atlanta’s 10-point lead as the Heat, led by LeBron James’ 24 points, beat the Hawks 103-90 to extend their season-best winning streak to eight games.
Dwyane Wade scored 20 points and Shane Battier had 17, hitting three three-pointers in the final period. James had 11 assists and six rebounds, but could not extend his franchise-record streak of seven straight games with at least 30 points.
In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Deron Williams scored 23 points to lead the Brooklyn Nets to a 97-94 win over the Bucks, while Zach Randolph had 17 points and 18 rebounds for the Memphis Grizzlies in an 88-82 victory over the Toronto Raptors.
The Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the New Orleans Hornets 105-100 after Kyrie Irving scored 20 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter, while Golden State’s Klay Thompson had 28 points and eight rebounds to lead the Warriors over the Phoenix Suns 108-98.
In other games, the Dallas Mavericks downed the Orlando Magic 111-96, the Minnesota Timberwolves beat the Philadelphia 76ers 94-87 and the Detroit Pistons were 105-99 winners over the Charlotte Bobcats.