James Harden scores 44, but CJ McCollum’s OT three lifts Portland past Houston

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CJ McCollum went head-to-head with James Harden and came out on top.

McCollum got his 44th point on an overtime three — on his career-high ninth three of the game — that put Portland up two with 6.3 seconds left.

That is an impressive shot, catching a pass below his knees and rising into a smooth three that fell — but it also left time for Harden to tie the game or win it.

Harden — despite all the drama of him coming to training camp late, demanding a trade (including possibly to Portland), and reportedly feuding with teammates —  dropped 44 points and had 17 assists

With the game on the line, Harden had the ball in his hands. After McCollum’s shot the Rockets were down two with 6.3 seconds left, Harden caught the inbounds pass. After a poor switch from Portland, Harden could have used a step-back three or pulled up from the midrange, but he drove deep into the defense then tried to pass to P.J. Tucker in the dunker’s spot along the baseline, only to have it picked off by Robert Covington.

Newcomer Christian Wood had a strong game for Houston scoring 31. Damian Lillard had 32 for Portland.