James Harden came up big for the Houston Rockets on a key defensive play in the dying moments of their Game 7 battle against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night. Harden blocked a Lu Dort three-point attempt that would have put the Thunder up by two points with less than five seconds remaining on the game clock — something that earned the praise of Rockets star Russell Westbrook.

Westbrook came to the defense of his backcourt buddy, claiming how Harden has been on the receiving end of some unfair criticism about his defense:


Let's be honest here. Harden is not exactly the best defensive player we've ever come across. He is undeniably one of the most gifted offensive players that have ever played the sport, but it's hard to deny that his defense leaves a lot to be desired.

This was not the case on Wednesday, though, with Harden executing a key defensive stop on what could have been a game-winning triple for the Thunder, and a season-ending shot for the Rockets. Russell Westbrook also points out that the numbers don't lie about Harden's defensive abilities, so perhaps he is indeed being unfairly persecuted?

Harden struggled from the field in Game 7, shooting just 4-of-15 overall and 1-of-9 from distance for just 17 points on the evening. Then again, he came up clutch on defense when it mattered most.

Harden, Westbrook, and the rest of the Rockets have now booked their place in the second round, in what should be another war against the top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers.