HOUSTON — James Harden had another triple-double, though this one wasn’t record-setting like his last. Still, it was enough to help the Houston Rockets to their fifth straight win.
Harden had 23 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds and Eric Gordon scored 31 points to lead the Rockets to a 101-91 win over the Wizards on Monday night.
Harden’s ninth triple-double of the season was a rocky follow-up to his brilliant New Year’s Eve performance where he had 53 points, 17 assists and 16 rebounds against the Knicks and became the first player in NBA history with a 50-15-15 game.
In this one, Harden committed six turnovers and was just 2 for 11 on 3-pointers after going 9 for 16 against New York.
“The beauty of it is, when my shot isn’t falling and when I’m not shooting the ball well, I’ve got other guys around me who can make up for it,” Harden said. “Tonight, Eric and Ryan (Anderson) stepped up for us and made big plays.”
Anderson scored eight points on 3-for-7 shooting from the field, including 2 for 5 on 3s) to help Houston start off the new month with a win following a 15-2 December.
John Wall had 18 points and 11 assists for Washington, which snapped a three-game winning streak and failed to move over .500 for the first time since it was 6-5 last season.
Bradley Beal had 27 points for the Wizards after missing Friday night’s game against Brooklyn with a right ankle sprain.
Gordon hit a deep 3 to give Houston an eight-point lead with two minutes remaining and later stretched the lead to 10 with a layup with a little more than a minute left.
Washington had a 53-41 lead at halftime, thanks in large part to Houston’s eight turnovers and poor shooting from beyond the arc. The Rockets were just 2 of 17 on 3s in the first half but made 10 of 22 in the second half to turn the game around.
“At the beginning of the game, they were dead — I felt like we were going to win the game by double digits just by the way we were flowing and they had no rhythm,” Beal said. “In the second half, it was just a totally different game.”
Houston stormed back in the third quarter, outscoring Washington 37-17 to turn a 12-point deficit into an eight-point lead.
“It’s easier to win when everyone’s playing well and we’re shooting the lights out and all that,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said. “We’ve got that part, but to grind it out, we haven’t done too many. We didn’t have our mojo but found a way and that’s really important for a team.”
Wizards coach Scott Brooks said the third quarter was pivotal for Houston on both ends of the floor.
“We had too many mistakes, defensively, and they capitalized with 3s,” Brooks said. “We played a pretty good game throughout if you just take away seven or eight minutes in the third quarter.”
Wizards: After scoring eight points in 24 minutes starting in place of Beal on Friday against Brooklyn, rookie SG Sheldon McClellan did not play. … Marcin Gortat had 13 points and 14 rebounds. . Former Rockets SG Marcus Thornton had seven points in 18 minutes for Washington.
Rockets: SF Corey Brewer started in place of Patrick Beverley, who missed his second straight game with a sprained right wrist. … Houston scored a season-low 14 points in the first quarter. … Harden clinched his triple-double with an alley-oop assist to Montrezl Harrell with 10 seconds remaining in the game.
OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY
Washington fell to 3-11 on the road, the second-worst road record in the Eastern Conference. At home, the Wizards are 13-6, third behind only Cleveland and Indiana in the East.
Wall believs the solution to the problem is simple.
“Just play 48 minutes,” he said. “We play for 48 minutes at home but have to find a way to do it on the road. When we don’t have the crowd behind us and we’re not making shots, we’ve still got to defend at a high level.”
FORMER WIZARDS’ IMPACTS
Rockets forwards Trevor Ariza and Nene both played in Washington for the 2013-14 season when the Wizards lost in the Eastern Conference semifinals, and they both played key roles in defeating their former team Monday night.
Ariza had 10 points, six rebounds, five assists, three steals and two blocks, while Nene had nine points, six rebounds and one towering third-quarter block of a floating jumper from Otto Porter Jr.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Harden was named the Western Conference Player of the Week on Monday for games played from Dec. 26 through Jan. 1. Harden earned the honor for the third time this season and the 12th time in his career, matching Hakeem Olajuwon for the most Player of the Week awards in franchise history. Harden averaged 37.3 points, 12.5 assists and 9.8 rebounds.
Wall was named the East’s Player of the Week after averaging 24.3 points, 13.0 assists, 5.3 rebounds and 2.7 steals while guiding the Wizards to a 3-0 record. Wall won the honor for the sixth time in his career.
Wizards: Visit Dallas on Tuesday night.
Rockets: Host Oklahoma City on Thursday night.
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