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by: Kris Gardner, United States Basketball Writers Association member. Credentialed media member since 1997. USBWA approved online journalist. Voter of Katrina McClain, Naismith, USBWA, and Wooden awards.

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Rockets erase 7 point deficit in final minute then top Mavs in OT

Posted: August 1, 2020 -- 6:48 a.m. CT

ORLANDO, FL (ESPN Disney World of Sports Complex) -- "We stuck with it. We willed our way to that win. We took the game. They thought they had it; and, we went and took it away."

Russell Westbrook said those words to the media Friday night after the Rockets erased a 7 point deficit in the final minute of the fourth quarter then defeat the Dallas Mavericks 153-149 in overtime. With the win, the Rockets improve to 41-24 overall and 1-0 in the first of 8 "seeding games" as part of the NBA' restart of the 2019-'20 season.

When Dallas forward Maxi Kleber drained a corner three-point basket, the Rockets trailed the Mavs 138-131 with 45.1 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. Less than five seconds later, James Harden nailed a 3 to bring the Rockets within 4 points.

Dallas (40-28) called a timeout; and, after the timeout, the Rockets' defense resulted in a tough three-point shot attempt by Luka Doncic. Doncic missed and Houston still had a chance.

Harden rebounded the miss and pushed the ball up court. Dallas' Tim Hardaway Jr. fouled Robert Covington with 6.3 seconds remaining. Covington made both foul shots to cut Houston's deficit to 138-136.

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Westbrook fouled Dallas guard Seth Curry with 5.2 seconds on the clock. Curry did what he did he previous two trips to the line in the game: he missed a free throw. Curry missed the first but made the second attempt. Curry, usually an 80-plus percent career free throw shooter, made just 3 of 6 from the line in the game.

Houston called timeout to advance the ball into the frontcourt and to set up a play. Harden caught the inbounds pass. Harden knew he would be fouled immediately; so, once he caught the ball, he shot a long three-point attempt. The shot missed; however, the ref determined Dallas' Dorian Finney-Smith fouled Harden before the shot attempt.

Harden went to the line for two foul shots with 3.9 seconds on the clock. Harden made the first for a 139-137 Dallas lead. Harden's second shot rolled off the left side of the rim. When the shot was launched, Robert Covington and P.J. Tucker did a cross pick which allowed Covington to move the right side of the lane to the left which put him a great position to tip in the missed shot and tie the game at 139.

After the game, Harden admitted he did not miss the shot on purpose; but, "it was the perfect miss".

Dallas called timeout with 3.3 seconds to set up a play. After the timeout, Doncic launched a three-point shot attempt which fell well short to send the game into the overtime session.

Houston outscored Dallas 31-20 in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 139. Dallas scored the first 4 points of overtime; but, Danuel House Jr made his sixth 3-point shot of the game to pull Houston within 143-142 with 3:08 on the clock. House scored 20 points for the Rockets in the game.

Next, Harden scored a driving lay-up and finished with his right (non-shooting) hand to put the Rockets ahead 144-143. After a Mavs' turnover, Harden scored another driving layup and was fouled. Harden made the free throw for a 147-143 Rockets' lead with 2:19 on the clock.

Dallas big man Kristaps Porzingis converted a three-point play; but, on Houston's next possession, Robert Covington sank a huge three-point shot for a 150-146 lead. Covington had missed his first 8 three-point shot attempts in the game before the basket.

Houston led 152-146 before Dallas guard Trey Burke cut the lead to 152-149 with his 8th three-point basket of the game. Burke finished the game with 31 points in 30 minutes off the bench.

Harden was fouled with 13.9 seconds on the clock. He missed the first foul shot and made the second attempt. Burke missed a three-point attempt with 8.4 seconds remaining. Harden pulled down the defensive rebound to seal the Rockets' come-from-behind victory.

Harden scored a game-high 49 points. He scored 23 in the first quarter. Harden added 9 rebounds and 8 assists. Westbrook finished the game with 31 points, 11 rebounds, and 8 assists.

Kristaps Porzingis scored 39 points to lead the Mavs. Luka Doncic added 28 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists, 8 turnovers, and 6 fouls.

Houston's next game is Sunday evening, August 2, versus the Milwaukee Bucks. Tip time is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on ABC.

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