Harden, Thunder Rally Back to Top Suns


Thursday, May 26th 2011, 12:15 pm
By: News On 6


Originally Published: Mar 6, 2011 9:12 PM CDT

Grant Belcher
Oklahoma Sports Staff Writer

OKLAHOMA CITY – Any questions of who would pick up the scoring load after Jeff Green’s departure were answered on Sunday night.

James Harden tied a career high to help the Thunder to a 122-118 overtime victory against Phoenix on Sunday night.

Harden had 26 points off the bench on 8-of-12 shooting, matching his previous career high set against Golden State in his rookie season.

He has averaged 18.6 points per game in the five games since Green was traded to Boston while shooting 49 percent from the field and 92 percent from the line in those games.

The Suns had given the Thunder trouble in the past and Friday was no exception.

Phoenix (32-29) hit 14 3-pointers, including a number of long fall-away shots with the shot clock buzzer winding down.

A pair of free throws from Russell Westbrook gave OKC a three-point lead with 11 seconds to play, but Phoenix’s Vince Carter immediately drained a 3 to tie it up just two seconds later.

A fadeaway jumper from Kevin Durant bounced out, forcing overtime.

Trailing two in the extra period, James Harden finished a fast break dunk while getting fouled and hit the free throw to put OKC up one.

Oklahoma City’s final seven points of the game came on free throws as the Suns finally went cold and were forced to foul.

Westbrook led all scorers with 32 points and picked up the double-double with 11 assists.

Kevin Durant registered just 18 points on the night and Serge Ibaka had 15 points, seven boards and four blocks.

The Thunder have now won three straight with a desirable upcoming schedule that has the potential to turn into a large winning streak.

OKC (39-22) will hit the road immediately to take on Memphis on Monday night at 7 p.m.