James Harden drops 41 in Houston's Christmas Day win over OKC

Houston Rockets: 3 takeaways from Christmas win over Thunder

Houston Rockets: 3 takeaways from Christmas win over Thunder

But Adams' opposite, Clint Capela, got the better of the Kiwi on the glass - hauling in 23 rebounds, including 10 on the offensive end, while his MVP teammate James Harden stepped up with a huge line of 41 points, six rebounds, and seven assists.

With the win, the Rockets climbed up to 18-15 on the season, which is good for seventh in the West, while the Thunder dropped to 21-12 and remain in the third spot in the conference. James Harden took on a leadership role in the absence of Chris Paul, dropping 41 points and 7 assists, including this late floater to put the game on ice.

Outside of a home blimp against the Minnesota Timberwolves on December 23, the Thunder, led by Russell Westbrook and Paul George, has been on a tear lately, winning four of their last five games.

Harden does virtually everything on the court for the Rockets, and his impact was on full display on Christmas Day. When clutch buckets are needed, there are few players in the National Basketball Association more reliable than Harden. While that doesn't sound like much, considering how they started the season this is a significant accomplishment. Harden put 868 dribbles on the floor November 26 against the Wizards, and scored 54 points in that game.

After dominating the paint in Houston's victory Saturday over the San Antonio Spurs, Capela duplicated the feat against Oklahoma City, gobbling up 14 rebounds in the first half alone. Or those the Thunder win/loss record is 2/4.

A 3-pointer by Paul George with less than two minutes left got Oklahoma City within 4 before Harden missed a 3. George is averaging career-highs across the board, and he looks to be playing with a consistent confidence that wasn't always noticeable in the past. In the Thunder's two clutch wins this month, 107-106 at Utah and 114-112 at Brooklyn, OKC grabbed over 43 defensive rebounds in each, compared to 37 or fewer in each of its five losses.

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