Mavericks vs. Rockets: O.J. Mayo and James Harden Combine for 79 in Thriller

Brian LeighFeatured ColumnistDecember 8, 2012

DALLAS, TX - NOVEMBER 12:  O.J. Mayo #32 of the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center on November 12, 2012 in Dallas, Texas.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Who said the shooting guard position was dead?

James Harden and O.J. Mayo went toe-to-toe in Houston tonight, combining for 79 points in a wild, high-scoring affair.

Dallas won the in-state clash 116-109, but the tit-for-tat showdown between the two bearded guards stole the show.

Mayo, now averaging 20.9 points in his debut season with the Mavericks, put up 40 points on 15-of-26 shooting. That kind of efficiency is impressive for the fourth-year scorer, who has never been short on potential, but has always had questionable shot selection.

Harden, meanwhile, continued his breakout season by putting up 39 points for the Rockets. He needed only 17 field goals to do it too. In typical Harden fashion, he took the ball to the rim, and took 16 free throws––making 15 of them.

The Rockets entered the fourth quarter leading by five, but the Mavericks outscored them 32-20 in the final frame. Mayo had 16 of the Mavs' fourth-quarter points, putting the team on his back when it needed him most.

The likeness between Harden and Mayo's careers are manifold and interesting. Both men were drafted third overall coming out of a Pac-12 school. Both men spent the first part of their careers coming off the bench for a playoff contender. And both men changed teams this offseason, providing them their first opportunity to be a full-time NBA starter.

Tonight, those semblances came to a head on a national stage. And the results were a treat to watch.