HOUSTON — The Nets couldn’t contain James Harden any better than the rest of the NBA, allowing him to top the 30-point mark for the 18th straight game, two short of the feat by Wilt Chamberlain in 1964, on his way to 58 points, which was Harden’s second straight 50-point effort.
But Spencer Dinwiddie kept pace with Harden down the stretch, hitting three straight three-pointers at the end of regulation to send the game to overtime, where Dinwiddie’s three-point play with 28 seconds left gave the Nets the lead for good in a thrilling 145-142 overtime upset that put their record at .500 (23-23) and gave them a 15-5 mark over the past 20 games.
It was an unbelievable finish by the Nets, who trailed by 13 points with four minutes left in regulation, were still down eight with 1:09 to go in regulation and then trailed by seven with 1:28 left in overtime.
The Nets finished the game on a 10-0 run that began with a three by Treveon Graham. With 40.9 seconds to go, Jarrett Allen made a layup to cut the deficit to 142-140 and was fouled. He missed the free throw, but Graham rebounded it and got it to Dinwiddie, who drove for a layup, was fouled and completed the three-point play for a 143-142 lead with 28 seconds to go.
“Probably the biggest play of the game was T.G. getting that offensive rebound of the free throw when we missed,” Dinwiddie said. “Big play. Big boost.”
Dinwiddie outscored Harden in the fourth quarter and OT, 25-22, and that was the difference. “Spencer made some phenomenal plays,” said Nets coach Kenny Atkinson, who said a week ago that he hoped Dinwiddie would shake off a recent slump. “He was just fantastic; he was unbelievable. The threes were great, but I also love how he was driving the ball to the rim, too.”
Dinwiddie hit a trio of threes in a span of 17.8 seconds near the end of regulation. The first cut the Rockets’ lead to 128-125 with 26.2 seconds left before he fouled Harden. The Rockets star made the first foul shot, his 16th straight, then missed. Dinwiddie then buried another three with 21.5 seconds left to make it a one-point game. Harden then made two more foul shots for a 131-128 lead.
But Dinwiddie had more magic left, nailing his third straight three to tie the game at 131. When Harden missed a three at the buzzer, the teams headed to overtime.
“The lineup we had out there provided incredible space,” Dinwiddie said. “That’s what makes stuff like that work. It makes the driving lanes big enough for me to get through, and I was able to get into the lane a little bit.”
The Rockets (25-19) also got 20 from Eric Gordon and P.J. Tucker, and they took an NBA-record 70 three-point attempts. The Nets had seven players score in double figures topped by 33 from Dinwiddie, 22 by DeMarre Carroll, 21 from Graham and Allen with 20 and 24 rebounds.
Asked how tough it was to stay focused when Harden was going off, Dinwiddie laughed and said, “It felt like he had 70 . . . Any team with that type of talent that shoots that many threes, they’re going to score. With the spacing they have and the dynamic Harden is, you can’t be discouraged by points. You just try to get as many stops as you can and go back down to the other end and try to make them pay.”
After going wild for Harden all night, the sellout crowd of 18,055 filed out in stunned silence. “We were just happy to have a collective effort like that,” Dinwiddie said. “The man had 60, and we won. That’s big-time for a young group.”