NBA: James Harden fires Houston Rockets in 125-124 buzzer beater win over Denver Nuggets

Los Angeles (AFP) - The Houston Rockets cemented their grip on third place in the Western Conference standings with a thrilling victory over the Denver Nuggets.

Guard James Harden settled the duel 125-124 with a last-gasp coast-to-coast lay-up after pouncing on a loose shoot from Nuggets guard Jameer Nelson.

It was the final act of another virtuoso display from Harden, who finished with 39 points as the Rockets improved to 49-22.

"I was running so fast, I felt like Usain Bolt," Harden said of his electrifying late break effort that clinched victory with 4.2sec on the clock.

Harden's heroics left Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni singing the Houston star's praises.

"He gives you an example every night," Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni said of Harden, one of the leading candidates for this season's Most Valuable Player (MVP).

"If something's better out there, I've never seen it and I've been around. I'm old and I've been around and never seen anything better."

Harden also had 11 assists while reserve guard Eric Gordon weighed in with 18 points, which included back-to-back three-pointers at the start of the fourth quarter.