Harden often stresses his longing to get and keep his teammates involved, and when he scored and facilitated with aplomb Sunday in Game 4, he was at his most potent.
Thanks to Harden's all-around efforts and a big assist from the bench, Houston thrived on offense from start to finish in a 125-104 win over San Antonio at Toyota Center to even the Western Conference semifinal series at two games apiece.
Harden was superb throughout on Sunday, recording game highs in points (28) and assists (12) to resuscitate an offense that went flaccid as the Spurs rolled to victories in Games 2 and 3.
The Rockets hit 19 of 43 3-point attempts Sunday, allowing Houston to level the series heading into Game 5 at San Antonio on Tuesday.
"I just tried to play with pace," said Harden, who scored 43 points in Game 3. "Once we got stops, just be aggressive, whether it's move to the basket or make an open pass. My body movement was key. Just push the ball. But the whole purpose was to get stops."
Guards Eric Gordon (22 points) and Lou Williams combined for 35 off the bench for Houston, which received 10 bench points on 3-of-19 shooting in Game 3. Houston lost reserve center Nene to a left groin injury. His status for Game 5 was unknown.
Reserve guard Jonathon Simmons tallied a team-high 17 points for the Spurs, who got 16 points apiece from forwards Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge. Patty Mills added 10 points.
The Spurs shot a robust 49.4 percent from the floor yet never led, overrun by a Rockets 3-point barrage similar to what unfolded in Houston's Game 1 win.
"They made a few adjustments that we just couldn't adjust with them on the fly," Mills said. "And it ended up leaving us (playing) soft and exposed our individual (defense), which they took the chances and just drove (on) us."
The Rockets set the tone for their offensive revival with a fast start.
Harden had eight points, five assists and two steals in the first quarter as Houston turned a breakneck pace into a 34-22 lead entering the second. After recording just four fastbreak points in Game 3, the Rockets managed 13 in the first quarter alone in Game 4.
"I think our defense was pretty defective," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.
The Spurs managed two runs in the second to draw close, using a 15-4 burst paced by Leonard and Pau Gasol to cut the margin to 41-37 at the 6:41 mark.
Simmons' basket with 53.2 seconds remaining in the first half left the Spurs trailing 57-53 at the break.
Houston caught fire from deep again in the third to extend its lead to 79-61 following four consecutive treys -- two from Harden and one each from Trevor Ariza (16 points) and Gordon (6 of 9 on 3-point attempts).
The Spurs shot 59.1 percent (13 of 22) in the second, but all it took was another streak of 3-pointers for the Rockets to rebuild their double-digit lead and then add to it.
The Rockets bracketed the final two periods with four more 3-pointers and led 97-79 with 11:08 left. Popovich didn't bother playing four of five starters in the fourth quarter as Houston extended to a 115-90 lead with 4:51 left.
"I thought we did a great job of having patience with their drive-ins," Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni said. "Drive, kick, drive, kick instead of just throwing up a quick floater, which is kind of what they want. We were able to keep moving the ball, or keep moving our people and keep driving until we found the easier shot. And it worked."
NOTES: Rockets G Patrick Beverley woke from his customary afternoon nap to discover that his grandfather, Rheese Morris, had died. Beverley was overcome with emotion following pregame warmups yet played 25 minutes and posted 10 points, four rebounds and six assists. ... The National Basketball Coaches Association named Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni a co-recipient of the inaugural Michael H. Goldberg NBCA Coach of the Year Award. D'Antoni shared the honor with the Miami Heat's Erik Spoelstra. D'Antoni led the Rockets to 55 wins in his first season in Houston, tying for the fourth-most victories in franchise history. ... The Spurs fell to 0-37 when entering the fourth quarter of a postseason game trailing by 15 or more points. ... Rockets reserve C Nene logged just two minutes before departing with a left groin injury. He recorded four points and a steal and was later transported to a local hospital for an MRI exam.