Notebook: Rockets 99, Wizards 93

Posted Dec 12, 2012 11:39 PM

By Matt Miller, for

THE FACTS: The Houston Rockets' high-octane offense looked as out of sorts as it has all season. But that did not stop the Rockets from running the length of the court often enough to knock off the woeful Washington Wizards.

James Harden scored 31 points on 10-for-20 shooting, and Chandler Parsons poured in 11 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter as Houston snapped a three-game losing streak with a 99-93 win Wednesday night at Toyota Center. The Rockets (10-11), winners of seven of their last nine home games, improved to 7-1 this season against Eastern Conference competition.

Rookie Bradley Beal led the Wizards (3-16), who fell to 1-9 on the road, with 20 points and six assists. Emeka Okafor, who was a standout player at nearby Bellaire High School, added a season-high 19 points on 9-for-12 shooting and six rebounds.

QUOTABLE: "We didn't come out with that intensity or that energy, and we didn't maintain it throughout the whole game. We took a step backwards. We weren't pushing the ball. We weren't sharing the ball. We had too many turnovers. ... It wasn't a great night for us."
-- Rockets forward Patrick Patterson

THE STAT: The Rockets were hoping for a higher-scoring, faster-paced game, but they still pushed the ball effectively at times. Houston finished with 24 fast-break points against a Washington defense that entered Wednesday allowing an average of only 9.2 fast-break points over its last six games.

TURNING POINT: Immediately after the Wizards took their first lead of second half, 52-51 with 7:09 remaining in the third quarter, the Rockets cranked up their defensive intensity and took control of the game with a 15-2 run over the next 4:20. Houston blocked three shots and forced three turnovers during the spurt and never relinquished the lead again.

QUOTABLE II: "There were moments when we didn't make shots, and we weren't getting the stops we wanted."
-- Wizards guard Bradley Beal

HOT: Harden netted as many points as Washington in the opening period, as the 6-foot-5 guard poured in 17 points on 6-for-7 shooting to help Houston build an early double-digit advantage.

NOT: Including Wednesday's 39.3 percent (35-for-89) shooting effort, the Wizards have shot 38.4 percent (99-for-258) from the field over their last three games. Washington has not connected on more than 42.5 percent of its field-goal attempts in each of its last three contests.

QUOTABLE III: "We have to play more inside-out. We're taking too many tough outside shots. You have to move the ball, and we don't, which gets us in trouble, and we fall in a hole."
-- Wizards coach Randy Wittman

GOOD MOVE: One game after Rockets starting point guard Jeremy Lin lit up the San Antonio Spurs for 38 points, coach Kevin McHale went with backup Toney Douglas to begin the fourth quarter. Douglas sparked Houston's struggling offense, scoring seven of the team's first nine points in the period as the Rockets extended a four-point lead to 77-68 with 8:55 remaining.

BAD MOVE: Houston allowed arguably the worst team in the league to hang around partially due to poor free-throw shooting, which is becoming a disturbingly common occurrence for the Rockets. After Wednesday's 22-for-30 (73.3 percent) performance, Houston has buried only 74.0 percent (77-for-104) of its attempts from the charity stripe over its last three games.

NOTABLE: Douglas, who scored in double figures for a season-high fifth consecutive game, drilled a shot from a few feet behind the mid-court line just before the first half ended to break a 42-42 deadlock. ... The Rockets have won four consecutive meetings with the Wizards overall and at Toyota Center. ... Houston was held to less than 107 points for the first time in seven home games, but it limited an opponent to less than 101 points for the first time in nine games overall. ... The Rockets improved to 5-2 this season when Harden reaches 30 points and 7-2 when he connects on at least 45.0 percent of his shot attempts. . ... Houston has won 25 of its last 29 December home contests. ... Washington dropped to 0-4 on the second night of a back-to-back set. ... The Wizards are now 0-8 when they attempt fewer free throws than their opponent. ... Washington fell to 0-15 when it shoots a lower percentage than its opponent. ... The Wizards' Chris Singleton blocked a career-high four shots. ... Rockets reserve center Greg Smith has swatted six shots over his last two games.

UP NEXT: For the Wizards: Friday vs. L.A. Lakers, Saturday @ Miami, Tuesday vs. Atlanta. For the Rockets: Friday vs. Boston, Sunday @ Toronto, Monday @ New York.