Harden wins for Rockets
AGGRESSION fuelled Houston Rockets guard James Harden one night after an admittedly passive performance while another slow start ultimately doomed the Washington Wizards.
Harden scored 42 points and out-duelled guard John Wall as the Rockets outlasted the Wizards for a 109-103 win on Wednesday.
Barely 24 hours after scoring a National Basketball Association (NBA) season-low 10 points in the 105-110 loss at the Brooklyn Nets, Harden recorded his eighth game this season with at least 30 points.
He made 13 of 23 shots with five three-pointers and 11 of 12 free throws. His statistic-filled night included nine rebounds and seven assists for the Rockets (11-12), who have won four of their last five games.
"There's a thing between missing shots and not being aggressive," Harden said. "(Tuesday) night I wasn't aggressive at all. I wanted to come out here and be aggressive."
His three-point play with 2min 13sec left broke a 99-99 tie. After each team traded baskets, Wall's turnover led to Harden assisting on forward Corey Brewer's fast-break layup for a 106-101 lead with 40.8 seconds left.
"Over and over and over again, he's made those types of plays for us," Rockets coach J. B. Bickerstaff said of the 2015 NBA Most Valuable Player runner-up.
"There's a reason why he is the player that he is. He's that player in clutch moments. You don't win games without a guy like that."
Wall neared triple-double territory with 26 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds, but the Wizards (9-11) could not keep up in the final minutes.
The early minutes at home proved an issue once again for Washington. Houston led by 13 points after the first quarter and 56-47 at half-time. Coach Randy Wittman said: "We're digging ourselves in too big a hole by playing too cool and too soft at the start of the game."