Hours after rumors swirled the Washington Wizards scuttled a trade for James Harden in the offseason, he dropped 31-points to lead the Houston Rockets to a 99-93 win.
Washington was searching for its first back-to-back road wins since 2006 after downing the New Orleans Hornets—read Pelicans—Tuesday night. A win was not in the cards for the team though, as it was clear at half that there was a great force working against them. Even with four starters, and five total players, in double-digits for scoring, they could not push themselves passed a pesky Houston team.
Harden, a former member of the Oklahoma City Thunder, was acquired by Houston after the Thunder initiated a salary dump following their trip to the NBA Finals last year. While widely looked at as a sixth man coming off the bench, Harden is currently fifth in the NBA in points per game and showed Wednesday night why he is a true scoring threat. Dominating the game at times, Harden made sure the Rockets held on to the momentum multiple times in the second half with two electrifying dunks.
Not wanting to be left out of the fireworks, Toney Douglas put in his own bid to make the SportsCenter Top-10. As time ticked down at the end of the second quarter, and both teams tied at 42-42, Jordan Crawford took the ball up the court and rushed a three-point attempt that never touched the rim with just over 0ne-second left on the clock. Douglas, took the inbound pass and launched a 50-foot three from beyond half court in a desperation hurl and it went it to give the Rockets a 45-42 lead.
The last two quarters would not go Washington’s way either, despite the squad keeping it close. Houston went on to outscore the Wizards by one in the third quarter and two in the fourth. While they were not huge point differentials, it was enough to make sure Houston was able to eek out the six point win.
Washington’s high scorer for the day was Bradley Beal with 20. At one point, the rookie from Florida hit two out of Washington’s back-to-back-to-back threes in the second quarter. It was part of an 11-0 Wizards run that helped erase Houston’s six point lead and tie the game at 40. His strong day shooting, 6-15 with three bombs from three-point land, is one of the few times the franchise has seen the first round pick really take control of a game.
With the loss, the team falls to 3-16 on the year and are now 1-9 on the road. Their schedule does not get any easier either, as they return home to take on the hapless, but talented, Los Angeles Lakers on Friday at the Verizon Center. Washington is just over a week removed from their huge upset over the Miami Heat at home, so there is a chance they could upend the Lakers on Friday.