LOS ANGELES: James Harden erupted for 50 points and Russell Westbrook bagged a triple-double, but it was not enough to stop the Houston Rockets falling to a double-overtime defeat to the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila).
Three days after a 60-point display against Atlanta, Harden followed that masterclass with a half-century at the AT&T Center in San Antonio.
Yet it was the Spurs who edged a thrilling duel 135-133 after two periods of overtime.
Lonnie Walker IV was the star for the Spurs, rising from the bench to lead the scoring with 28 points and four rebounds.
Walker’s intervention had helped San Antonio claw their way back into the game in the closing minutes of regulation.
The Rockets led by 10 points with just under four minutes on the clock but were reeled in by Walker, who hit back-to-back three-pointers to tie the score at 115-115 and force overtime.
Houston, however, was on the wrong end of a refereeing blunder earlier in the fourth quarter that turned out to be pivotal.
Harden broke away and took his time before dunking emphatically into an empty net. The points were ruled out, however, after officials mistakenly judged that the ball had bounced out of the basket.
Those lost points proved costly as the Spurs forced overtime and battled their way to a pulsating victory.
Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni bemoaned his team’s inability to close out the win after leading by 22 points at one stage.
Elsewhere, the Los Angeles Lakers extended their lead at the top of the Western Conference with a 105-96 defeat of the Denver Nuggets in Colorado.
The Lakers were once again led by LeBron James and Anthony Davis, who each finished with 25 points from 36 minutes on court.
Jamal Murray led the Denver scoring with 22 points, but the Lakers were always in control after building up a 60-49 lead at halftime.
The Lakers now lead the Western Conference by 3.5 games from second-placed Denver with 18 wins against three defeats.
In other games Tuesday, Luka Doncic delivered another masterclass as the Dallas Mavericks overpowered the New Orleans Pelicans 118-97.
An overtime scoring spree from Jimmy Butler, meanwhile, helped the Miami Heat to a 121-110 victory over the NBA champion Toronto Raptors in Toronto.