HOUSTON — James Harden scored 35 points and his layup with 0.7 seconds remaining lifted the Houston Rockets to a 113-112 win over the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night.
The victory sends Houston into the All-Star break with a season-best seven-game winning streak.
John Wall gave Washington the lead with a pair of free throws with 4 seconds left. Trevor Ariza fouled out when he pushed Harden to the ground on the ensuing inbounds pass. It was ruled a foul away from the play, giving Houston one free throw and possession.
Harden, who was 16 for 16 at the line, made the free throw before grabbing a pass from Chandler Parsons and driving into the lane for the winning shot.
The Wizards had a chance to win at the end, but Kevin Seraphin’s shot clanged off the rim.
Ariza had a season-high 32 points with a career-high 10 3-pointers to lead the Wizards.
They trailed by 18 in the third quarter before a barrage of 3s from Ariza got Washington back in the game. His 10 3-pointers were the most ever against the Rockets. Ariza was 7 for 7 on 3s in the third and made six in a 4-minute span late in the quarter, including three in an incredible 32-second stretch.
Five straight points, capped by a three-point play by Wall, put the Wizards up 110-108 with 2:21 remaining in the fourth. Houston had a shot-clock violation on the next possession, but Nene fouled out with an offensive foul on the other end. Harden made two free throws with 23.2 seconds left to tie it at 110.
Nene had 21 points, Bradley Beal scored 20 and Wall finished with 19 points, 14 assists and three steals.
Dwight Howard added 24 points with 16 rebounds for Houston, and Parsons scored 18.
An 8-3 run by Washington cut Houston’s lead to two midway through the fourth quarter. The Rockets scored the next five points to stretch the lead before five quick points by Washington got it back down to two with 4 minutes left.
A 3-point shot by Beal got Washington within five with about 9 minutes left in the third quarter. The Rockets scored 13 straight points after that to extend the lead to 83-65. Harden had five points in that stretch, and he and Howard brought the crowd to its feet when Harden found Howard for a monster alley-oop dunk.
The Wizards missed shot after shot and didn’t score four more than 4 minutes while Houston built the lead. They missed from long-range, mid-range and even botched two layups.
Washington finally ended the scoring drought thanks to Ariza. He made his second 3-pointer of the quarter with less than 5 minutes left in the third. He made three more 3s on consecutive possessions a couple of minutes later to cut Houston’s lead to 90-79.
But he wasn’t done yet, and made two more on back-to-back trips down the court to make it 93-87 with a minute remaining in the quarter. Wall got in on the fun on the next possession, sinking a 3 of his own, to leave Houston clinging to a 93-90 lead entering the fourth quarter.
The Rockets used a 10-3 spurt to regain a 52-46 lead late in the second. Howard and Harden each made two free throws in the last 30 seconds of the half to extend Houston’s advantage to 63-54 at the break.
NOTES: Patrick Beverley missed the game with an abdominal strain, and Jeremy Lin started in his place. … Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon watched the game from a courtside seat. … Ex-Rocket Clyde Drexler presented Harden and Howard with framed All-Star jerseys to celebrate their inclusion in this weekend’s game. Harden is in the game for the second time and it’s the eighth time Howard has received the nod.
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