(ABC)–James Harden was not about to let one rough half ruin his evening.
And the Houston Rockets’ star guard figures he has enough help around the court that the points are bound to flow for himself and the rest of his team.
Harden set aside a slow start to finish with 32 points and 15 assists — his fourth straight 30-10 game — and led the Rockets past the slumping Washington Wizards 114-106 on Monday night.
“Chemistry with everybody is getting there,” Harden said after helping Houston improve to 4-3, with help from Ryan Anderson’s 23 points, Trevor Ariza’s 15 and Clint Capela’s 14. “It’s just predicated on me making the right decision.”
Washington’s John Wall broke Hall of Fame center Wes Unseld’s franchise record for career assists before getting ejected with 33.3 seconds left and his team trailing by five en route to falling to 1-5.
Official Marc Davis explained the reason for Wall’s second technical foul this way via a pool report: “After granting the team a timeout, I felt that there was contact and that he bumped me. I wasn’t certain of his intent. I told him to watch himself. He looked over his shoulder and used vulgarity and inappropriate language.”
Wall left with 21 points and eight assists.
“I didn’t do a good job of helping us win,” he said.
Harden shot just 1 for 4 and had five turnovers in the opening period, which ended with Washington ahead 30-23, and had only seven points by halftime.
But he got more and more involved at the offensive end and scored eight consecutive Houston points in one stretch of the fourth quarter, including half of a 12-0 run that gave the Rockets a 106-95 lead with a little more than 3 1/2 minutes left.
“He uses his body well. He’s a strong guy. He gets away with a few push-offs, here and there, but that’s just the nature of his character,” Washington’s Bradley Beal said. “Got to give credit where it’s due: He was struggling in the first half, pretty much almost the whole game, until the last quarter and a half.”
Harden, who entered the day leading the NBA in assists at 12.3 per game and fourth in scoring average at 31.5 points, made all 11 free throws against Washington.
“He’s not going to go through a whole game where he’s not back on track to a degree,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said.