Harden-fueled Rockets stymie Wizards

Harden-fueled Rockets stymie Wizards
December 12, 2012, 11:45 pm
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Seeking their second road win in as many nights, the Wizards wound up playing the role of Charlie Brown while the Houston Rockets most definitely channeled their inner Lucy. Hoping to kick aside a lengthy road futility mark, plucky Washington charged back from three double-digit deficits during the second half. In each case the teasing Rockets pulled the metaphoric football - in this case, the lead - away before eventually ending the Wizards triumphant hopes.

Bradley Beal paced five double figure scorers with 20 points before fouling out and Houston native Emeka Okafor efficiently scored a season-high 19 points for the Wizards. Victors at New Orleans Monday night despite an inaccurate shooting performance, Washington couldn't overcome another sub 40-percent outing or key gaffes at inopportune moments - or the Rockets shooting star. The much-discussed James Harden tallied 31 points and after staying close Washington eventually lost contact with Houston in the final minutes, losing 99-93.

The bearded one fueled the Rockets early stretch with 17 first quarter points as Washington trailed by 14 points in the first half. Yet, the Wizards (3-16) took the lead in the third only to immediately fall back by 12. Fighting uphill again, Nene directed another rally that had the lead down to 68-64 entering the fourth, but Houston (10-11) again pushed back and pushed the lead back to double digits at 78-68.

One final wash, rinse, and repeat cycle remained. Nene's 3-point play with 3:42 left had Washington thinking comeback at 86-82. Jeremy Lin's subsequent reverse layup followed by eight points from Chandler Parsons (18 points) including two 3-pointers essentially ended such thoughts as the Wizards fell to 1-9 on the road this season.

The Wizards shot 39.3 percent from the field but saved their worst clanking from beyond the arc, finishing 7 of 25 (28.0 percent). Jordan Crawford scored 17 points with nine in the fourth quarter, but missed 12 of 18 attempts. Chris Singleton went scoreless, missing all seven of his shots, though he finished with four blocks. Washington shot 52 percent from the field in the fourth, but committed four of its turnovers.

While the rumored non-deal  for Harden hovered over the proceedings - and was front and center when he alone matched the Washington's first quarter scoring - the Wizards primary objective centered on winning consecutive games for the first time this season.

Alas, the Wizards failed and in their attempt to win road games on back-to-back days for the first time since September 2006. Continually falling well behind and playing catch up eventually caught up to them.

Harden lived up the high-scoring hype early with a dazzling first quarter by sinking 6 of 7 shots, driving and jump shooting his way toward tallying Houston's final 12 for a 27-17 lead. However, the bearded one missed all three of his attempts in the second quarter - overall he made 10 of 20 - as the Wizards rallied from beyond the arc.

Trailing 40-31 three minutes before halftime, Beal and Crawford hit consecutive 3-pointers from the left corner before the rookie's right wing bomb tied the game at 40. Rockets guard Toney Douglas took the long-range act to another level as his buzzer-beating heave from beyond half court gave Houston led 45-42.

Seemingly not letting his mention in the reported preseason swap with Oklahoma City impact his performance, Beal turned in his latest aggressive effort and his sixth straight double-digit outing. Though his shooting percentage from inside and outside the arc hasn't always been pretty, Beal has averaged 15.7 points and 3.7 assists in that span.

Okafor's offense had been nonexistent entering Houston with 14 points total in his previous three game, but the Wizards center made 9 of 12 shots playing a short drive from where he grew up. Nene had 13 points and 9 rebounds, and Martell Webster scored 16.

The Wizards host the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night.

Notes...John Wall will have his left knee examined on Friday in New York, Comcast SportsNet's Chris Miller reported. The Wizards point guard is scheduled to meet with Dr. David Atchek, who first diagnosed the stress patella injury on Sept. 27. Initial projections had Wall out eight weeks, but next week marks three months since the announcement three days before the start of training camp. Wall has been cleared for practice.