Houston Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni said fans inside the Toyota Center on Friday night were witness to one of the greatest performances in NBA history courtesy of James Harden against the San Antonio Spurs.
The Rockets' superstar guard scored 61 points on the strength of nine threes to go along with seven rebounds, three steals and an assist across 37 minutes in a 111-105 win over one of the league's hottest teams.
"I don't know how you get any better," D'Antoni told reporters. "Whoever was in the gym tonight probably [saw] something they have never seen before. There's no way. That was one of the best performances—the magnitude of the game, we needed it—just everything."
The Spurs took a six-point lead with 4:47 left on a Derrick White basket. Harden responded with three consecutive makes from beyond the arc to give the Rockets a 103-100 advantage they'd never relinquish.
Like D'Antoni, Houston guard Gerald Green was effusive in his praise of the reigning MVP:
"Some of the shots he hit today, it's remarkable. I've seen a lot of basketball in my life, played against a lot of people, and his talent level is just something that I've just never seen before. The only person that could probably guard him is the coaches and the referee. That's it. There's nobody that can stop him.
"He's just one of those types of players that he's able to get a shot off at any time. He doesn't have any weaknesses. Only person that can stop him is [D'Antoni] if he takes him out, and the referees if they foul him out. That's it."
San Antonio entered the game with nine wins in its previous 10 games, making Harden's latest showstopping performance even more incredible.
"I just knew how important this game was," Harden said. "This was an opportunity for us to take care of our home, so I wanted to come out with some aggressiveness."
The Rockets are four games behind the Golden State Warriors and Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference standings. They are trying to at least ensure home-court advantage in the first round, with just four games separating them in third place and San Antonio in eighth place.
Harden, who has scored 118 points over his past two games and is leading the NBA's scoring race by more than eight points per game, is doing everything in his power to help Houston's postseason positioning.