Rallying twice in the second and fourth quarters, Houston held on to put the best-of-seven series at 2-2.
The Warriors got off to a flying start with a 12-0 raid on the visitors who trailed 28-19 by the end of a first quarter that saw Kevin Durant score 10.
But the Rockets fired into action in the second quarter, rallying to go 53-46 up at half-time.
After scoring nine in the first period, Harden brought his first-half total to 24 by the break as Houston rose above the Warriors.
But Curry came back with five triples on the way to 17 as Golden State hit back in the third quarter to retake the high ground.
The Warriors went into the fourth with a sizeable 80-70 lead on the Rockets, but Houston were not down and out.
On a Paul assist Trevor Ariza lifted the Rockets over the Warriors 85-84 with 6:03 left on the clock, Harden kept dunking and the Rockets kept the Warriors at bay.
British boxer Anthony Joshua was courtside and shared a video of him giving Curry an “assist” of his own.
The former player, who won a title with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2010, feels Durant has to win two more championships with the Warriors before earning the type of recognition the other Golden State players will receive if they raise a third banner in four years.
The Warriors’ core of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston already won a title and a regular-season record 73 games before Durant arrived in the summer of 2016.
“I don’t see Kevin Durant being part of that dynasty,” said Metta World Peace, formerly Ron Artest. “I say Kevin has to win this year or next year, and then another one.”
Stephen Curry sparked a second-half comeback to inspire the Golden State Warriors to victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday, but suffered a late ankle injury to take the shine off a dramatic win.
Curry rolled badly on his right ankle in the final minute of the Warriors 125-115 win in New Orleans, limping off the court and later leaving the Smoothie King Center on crutches.
X-rays taken after the game however indicated no serious damage although Curry was taking nothing for granted having already suffered an injury to his right ankle earlier in his career.
“I sprained my ankle and I’ll see how it feels tomorrow and kind of go from there,” said Curry, who scored 31 points in the win.
“Obviously, it’s the second situation, but … this is more on the concerned side. I’ve been through this before on this ankle, and knowing the surgical repairs from like five or six years ago are fine, I should be able to bounce back.”
ohhhh no no no no no…. Stephen Curry suffered an ankle injury… pic.twitter.com/GZ2c7NbNWw
— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) December 5, 2017
Earlier, the reigning NBA champions had overturned a 69-49 half-time deficit to grab a victory which improved their record to 19-6.
It was the second time this season that the Warriors had come back from 20 points down or more to claim victory.
No other team in modern NBA history has posted 20-point halftime comebacks in the same season.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr however was unimpressed that his team had once again been required to dig themselves out of a hole of their own making.
“It’s absolutely too much,” Kerr said. “We’re not composed out there. We’re a championship team. We’ve got to be poised and we’ve got to execute.
“We’re getting way too emotional, myself included. We’ve got to show some poise when things aren’t going our way and stop worrying about everything else and just worry about the game.”
That lack of composure was evident in an ugly confrontation between Warriors star Kevin Durant and Pelicans DeMarcus Cousins. Both players were ejected after facing off in the closing minutes of the game.
Durant, who scored 19 points, later reproached himself for his loss of control.
“I can’t get involved with that type of stuff,” Durant said. “I’ve just got to stay locked in and stay focused on the game.
“I’m not going to fight nobody. I don’t want to get injured. I don’t want to get suspended. I love to play. I love making money for my family, so I’m not trying to get suspended.”
Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins were both ejected after this heated confrontation. pic.twitter.com/ySzAAQKf8F
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 5, 2017
Elsewhere Monday, Kyrie Irving scored 32 points as the Boston Celtics overcame a 40-point performance from the Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo to score a 111-100 win.
The Celtics, who also had 20 points from Al Horford, improved to 21-4. The Celtics have now won 11 of their last 12 home games.
Irving, who joined Boston from Cleveland earlier this year, paid tribute to his burgeoning understanding with Horford.
“When you’ve got guys who are willing to be as selfless as we are, then it makes everything in terms of our system work,” Irving said.
“Me and Al, we’re pretty selfless guys, but we understand when we’ve got to make our mark in the game and if we do that, whatever’s needed we do.”
HAPPY RETURNS FOR WADE
In Chicago meanwhile, the Cleveland Cavaliers notched a 12th straight win in a 113-91 blowout over the hapless Bulls.
Dwyane Wade and Kevin Love scored 24 points apiece while LeBron James added 23 as the Cavs improved to 17-7 in the Eastern Conference.
It was a satisfying return to Chicago for Wade, who played for the Bulls last year before joining Cleveland.
“I’m just in a good groove and I’m just taking my opportunities as they come,” Wade said.
Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg meanwhile lamented a loss of concentration in the first half which allowed Cleveland to pull away.
“We had about a five-minute stretch in the first half when we just lost our minds,” Hoiberg said. “It’s those stretches that we have to find a way to eliminate. When we’re not making shots, we have to continue to guard.”
— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) December 5, 2017