Houston guard James Harden was sick (as in ill) all day Wednesday, then his 3-point shooting got sick (as in awesome) later that night against the Thunder in Game 5.
Harden skipped his team's morning shoot-around to rest, then burned his former teammates for 31 points. He buried his first seven 3-pointers and also finished with eight rebounds.
“I didn't have any energy and just slept right up until it was game time,” explained Harden, who was traded to Houston on Oct. 27 after refusing to sign an extension offer with OKC. “I just tried to go out there and give it all I had. It was a win or go home.”
After trailing 3-0 in the series, the Rockets are now halfway to completing the greatest series comeback in NBA playoff history after their 107-100 win in Game 5 on Wednesday night. No team has ever come back from a 3-0 series deficit.
Harden said the series changed when Houston was able to hang on for a 105-103 victory on Game 4 on Monday.
“We just came out here and played pressure-free,” Harden said. “Go out there and just hoop. That was our mindset going into the game. Same thing back home, just go out there and hoop. We're an 8 seed. Nobody's expecting us to win. Give it what we got. Simple.”
The Rockets won Game 4 despite Harden committing 10 turnovers and shooting 4 for 12 from the floor.
In the first four games of the series, Harden had shot 36.4 percent (28 for 77) from the field and 16.0 percent (4 for 25) from 3-point range.
In Game 5, he made nine of his first 11 shots from the field and wound up playing 41:34 despite his illness.
The streaky Rockets were due for a good shooting night from beyond the 3-point arc and it arrived Wednesday by shooting 40 percent (14 for 35).
Six Houston players scored in double-digits compared to three for the Thunder.
Rockets center Omer Asik had 21 points, 11 rebounds and converted 13 of 18 free throws (72.2 percent) after being intentionally fouled seven times in the fourth quarter.
The Thunder tried a Hack-An-Asik tactic in an effort to narrow the deficit with some missed free throws from Asik, who entered the game having shot 58.8 percent from the line in the series.
Making only his second start, Francisco Garcia went 5 for 12 on 3-pointers and added 18 points. Point guard Patrick Beverley, despite being booed due to his role in Russell Westbrook's season-ending knee injury, had 14 points and eight rebounds, while Chandler Parsons and Aaron Brooks added 10 points each.
The Rockets shot 47.2 percent from the field compared to 41.9 percent for OKC.
“They came out and played lights out,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “They shot the ball so well.”