Rockets rally late, upend Spurs
Houston, TX – James Harden's jumper with 4.5 seconds left lifted the Houston Rockets to a 96-95 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday.
Trailing 93-89, Chandler Parsons buried a triple to make it 93-92 with 1:19 left.
Tony Parker, who scored 12 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter, then knocked down a pair of free throws seven seconds later to make it a three- point game.
Following a timeout, Harden was fouled while attempting a 3-pointer, but went just 2-for-3 from the charity stripe to make it 95-94 with just over a minute remaining.
Tim Duncan missed a short jumper, but the Spurs retained possession after winning a jump ball. Kawhi Leonard looked to put San Antonio ahead by four with a trey from the left corner, but the ball hit the side of the backboard.
Following another timeout, Harden threw the inbounds pass to Omer Asik, who quickly tapped it back, and Harden pulled up and buried a jumper from just inside the arc.
The Spurs had a chance to win the game, but Duncan bricked a fadeaway jumper, and Manu Ginobili's putback didn't fall at the buzzer.
"(Assistant) coach Kelvin Sampson just told me to take what is available, so I came off (and) the pull up was there," Harden said. "Tim Duncan was playing back the majority of the game, great shot blocker. So the shot was there. The shot that was there was the pull-up and I had confidence to go out there and shoot it."
Harden finished with 29 points and Parsons chipped in 20 points and eight rebounds for the Rockets, winners in three straight and five of their last six. They remain in the seventh spot in the Western Conference, a half-game behind Golden State.
Duncan scored 17 points and Leonard finished with 12 for the Spurs, who lead the Oklahoma City Thunder by 1 1/2 games for the top spot in the Western Conference.
Houston led 22-20 after the first period, but was outscored 26-21 in the second to go into the break trailing 46-43. The Rockets shot 50 percent from the field in the third period to take a 74-67 lead into the final frame.
"I think we're playing better. The last few games have been pretty good. I thought we worked hard tonight, executed pretty well," said Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich. "We were probably fortunate to have an opportunity to win the game."
Harden went 15-for-17 from the free throw line ... Houston scored 20 points off 18 San Antonio turnovers ... Tiago Splitter scored 10 points and pulled down six rebounds for the Spurs, who had won the season's first three meetings.