Houston (CBS Houston) – James Harden’s 28 points, and game winning free throw with a tenth of a second remaining, lift the Rockets past the Mavericks, 93-92 in their home opener.
Wesley Matthews drained a three point shot to tie the game with four seconds left, but then fouled Harden on his drive to the basket on the ensuing possession just before the fourth quarter horn.
Harden stepped to the line with two free throw attempts to give the Rockets the lead. His missed his first attempt before nailing the second to give Houston the victory.
“Coach messed me up, he was saying make the first one and miss the second one, and I did the opposite,” Harden said.
Ryan Anderson had his best game as a Rocket, scoring 14 points and grabbing 12 rebounds, on his way to his first double double of the season. Anderson had the line of the night describing Harden’s theatrics at the end of the game.
“Everybody knows that he missed that first free throw for dramatic effect,” Anderson joked.
Eric Gordon’s 12 first half points led all scorers, and helped the Rockets open up a 63-53 lead at the half. Gordon though would score only two points in the second half.
Dallas started the second half strong, cutting the deficit down to one on several occasions.
Things got testy midway through the third quarter when Andrew Bogut committed a flagrant foul against Anderson. A few minutes later a double technical was called on Trevor Ariza and Salah Mejri after some shoving between the two.
The game turning physical awoke the Rockets as they closed the final five and half minutes of the third on an 11-2 run to take a 10-point lead into the final quarter.
The Rockets would see the 10-point lead vanish with four seconds left, but Harden saved the day by drawing the foul and hitting a free throw.
Now the Rockets face a tough stretch of the schedule as they next play at defending champion Cleveland on Tuesday for the first of five straight on the road.