James Harden was back in action and form for the Oklahoma City Thunder last night in their 102-99 win over the Dallas Mavericks. It was not only a statement for the team against the reigning NBA champions. It was also a personal statement for Harden after being knocked out with a concussion from a blow to the head from Metta World Peace.
Harden delivered strong numbers across the board last night, including going 10 for 10 from the stripe in a very close game. With 15 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals, Harden was a positive contributor no matter what was going on. Durant said it was nice to have him back.
"We’re an aggressive team, and all season we’ve been getting to the free-throw line," Thunder forward Kevin Durant said. "We practice free throws every day in every situation. James loves that situation, getting up there and knocking them down with the game on the line."
Harden admits the fourth quarter was an intense one. The lead kept changing and Dallas once again was up over OKC going into the final minute of the game. For the second straight time, however, the Thunder ended up on top when it counted.
We kept going back and forth, especially in that fourth quarter," Harden said. "It was a one-point lead and it kept exchanging, so we had to really lock in and get some stops down the stretch and we did.
"Our intensity, helping each other on the defensive end, our communication and when we made them miss, we grabbed the rebound and we pushed it and got open threes and open layups," Harden said, when asked what was behind that outburst. "That’s going to be the key, us getting stops and getting into transition and getting easy baskets."
For more on the Oklahoma City Thunder, be sure to check out Welcome to Loud City and join the discussion. For more on the Dallas Mavericks, check out Mavs Moneyball. For more on the 2012 NBA Playoffs, check out the SB Nation NBA hubpage.