James Harden made his defense sing at the end of a crucial Game 7, getting the game-saving block over the Oklahoma City Thunder hero Lu Dort in the final seconds of regulation.

Despite yet another awful shooting display while being defended by Dort, an undrafted rookie, Harden paid him back with the same coin, swatting a 3-point attempt and avoiding a ball fired his way to ultimately secure passage into the next round.

Following the win, James Harden talked up his defensive prowess in the post-game press conference:

“I’ve been locked in all year long trying to be better on that side of the ball,” said Harden, according to Ben Golliver of The Washington Post. “Tonight was a huge emphasis on it. Came up with the big block to win the game.”

“It’s cool to get 40 or 50 points or shoot the ball extremely well, obviously we all want to do that. To get recognition and for it to pay off when it counts on the defensive end, it shows that I’ve been engaged and locked in.”

Harden finished with a mere 17 points on 4-of-15 shooting, including 1-of-9 from deep in 37 minutes. Outscored by three other starters on his own team, Harden had to rely on his defensive instincts to salvage a worthy performance after coming out flat at the end of Game 6. A loss surely would have made the Rockets superstar the subject of disparaging articles questioning his ability to get the franchise over the hump.

Luckily for The Beard, his alertness at the end of the game saved face for an otherwise grim night shooting the basketball.