OAKLAND (California) • James Harden strolled into the Oracle Arena on Thursday night wearing a green rain jacket, as he prepared for the big National Basketball Association (NBA) clash with the Golden State Warriors.
It was as if he knew that he would take the two-time defending champions by storm despite them being on their home court.
The point guard, who finished with his second triple-double of the week and fifth of the season, showed once again he was at the top of his game when he rattled in the winning basket with one second left in overtime to lift the Houston Rockets to a 135-134 win.
The reigning NBA Most Valuable Player also drained the three-pointer despite being double-teamed as the Rockets rallied from a 20-point second-half deficit.
"I had confidence it would go in. Even the ones I miss, they feel good," said Harden, who recorded his fifth straight 40-point performance.
"I take my shots, I drive to the basket. I shoot my step-backs with confidence and live with the results.
"I'm just happy to come away with the win.
"I just had to go out and do my part on the highest level."
He finished with 44 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds in a titanic battle between the Western Conference powers who met in a seven-game NBA play-off semi-final last season won by Golden State.
Harden also had a triple-double on Monday against Memphis comprising 43 points, 10 rebounds and 13 assists. He has scored at least 30 points in 11 straight contests.
Houston coach Mike D'Antoni was at a loss for words.
"I've run out of things to say about him," he said. "Maybe they'll consider him for the MVP race."
Number of points James Harden scored against the Warriors. It is his fifth straight 40-point performance.
He has scored at least 30 points in 11 straight games.
When asked if there is any way opponents can stop Harden, he added: "You don't, you can't... You might as well give up."
Thirty of Harden's points came on 10 three-pointers as the Rockets went 21-for-54 from beyond the arc and outscored Golden State 63-42 on threes.
Clint Capela recorded a 29-point, 21-point double-double for Houston, who beat Golden State for the second time this season.
The Rockets (22-15) have now won their sixth straight and 11th in their past 12.
Stephen Curry led the Warriors (25-14) with 35 points despite just 5-for-15 shooting from three-point range. Golden State were 14 for 37 from long distance as a team.
"He's been playing at a high level the last 11 games, so it is not surprising considering the roll he is on," Curry said of Harden.
Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson finished with 26 points apiece for the Warriors, while Draymond Green had nine points, 11 rebounds and eight assists.
The loss was Golden State's third straight at home.
"Harden made the impossible shot at the end," said Warriors coach Steve Kerr.
"Just an incredible performance. He is the master of isolation and the step-back three and drawing fouls."
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS