With less than 5 seconds left to play in the game, James Harden came up with a huge block on Luguentz Dort to put the Houston Rockets in a winning position.

Always criticized for coming up short in must-win games, things seemed to be going against Harden in another elimination game. He was able to take only 15 shots, making just 4 of them. He finished with only 17 points in the game. But despite having a torrid shooting game, James Harden came up clutch on the defensive end of the floor in the closing stages.

James Harden’s clutch block on Luguentz Dort

The last 2 minutes of game 7 comprised of some of the most scrappy, low-quality offense in the entire NBA bubble. There was a 20-second span with around 1 minute left in the game when there was a veritable pinball game going on near the halfcourt line. The difference-making bucket was made, ironically, off a PJ Tucker runner from the baseline – one of his rarest shot types.

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The Thunder were successful in clamping the Rockets’ two possessions after the Tucker shot, but they could not get a clean shot off themselves. With 4.7 seconds left on the game clock and the shot clock expiring, Dort attempted a 3-point shot on the left wing, which Harden came flying in to block.

In the on-court interview, James Harden admitted having a below-par game and accepted that he absolutely needed to come up with a clutch defensive play.

“Offensively, I played like s**t. Defensively, I had to come up with a play” Harden said.

His play was reminiscent of when Manu Ginobili blocked his own attempt to hit a game-winning 3-pointer in the 2017 NBA playoffs. His series-winning play was lauded from all quarters of NBA fandom, including Dwyane Wade, who said it was his favorite play from Harden.

The Rockets finished the game with a stop on a broken out-of-bounds play from the Thunder, who got the ball to Steven Adams only for the big man to fumble the ball.

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