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Wizards overcome James Harden’s big night to top Rockets

November 27, 2018

James Harden was named the league’s MVP for a reason last season. Against the Wizards on Monday, it was easy to remember why.

But on a night when the Houston Rockets guard shined, the Wizards had two of their own stars to answer back.

John Wall and Bradley Beal helped lead Washington to a 135-131 overtime win at Capital One Arena, despite Harden’s 54 points and 13 assists. Wall had 36 points and Beal added 32 en route to the Wizards’ second straight win.

Both were enough to top Harden, who was spectacular. Harden’s 50th point came with 3:20 left in the game and on a four-point play in which he hit a step back three over Wizards reserve Jeff Green, who committed the foul.

Later on, Harden found center Clint Capela for a game-tying alley-oop with 9.8 seconds left. That basket ended up forcing overtime, which was controlled by the Wizards.

The Wizards were woeful in the first quarter. Houston is known for its ability to jack up 3-pointers at high volume, but Washington did little to prevent them. The Rockets hit their first seven 3-pointers and led by 42-30 marking the seventh time this season that the Wizards had allowed at least 35 points to begin the game.

But Washington clawed its way back, in part, because they were better defensively and Houston started to miss shots. After shooting 63 percent from deep in the first, Houston went just 1-for-11 in the second from beyond the arc. The Wizards, too, started to drain their own shots, with an energetic Wall generating offense by driving to the rim and kicking out to shooters.

Washington led 67-65 at halftime.

The Rockets, though, had plenty left thanks to Harden. The 2017 MVP scored 21 points in the third, carving the Wizards up from the three-point line, inside the paint and at the foul line. Houston took back the lead by the end of the quarter.

In the fourth, Washington got a boost from its bench. Austin Rivers, Markieff Morris and Green all hit timely baskets to keep the Wizards competitive until the end. With less than two minutes remaining, Morris tipped back a key rebound to Beal, who drained a go-ahead step back 3-pointer to lead 124-123. But the Wizards scored just one more point in regulation as Otto Porter split a pair of free throws down the stretch, which let Houston tie the game on an alley-oop to Capela.

With one second left, Wall had a game-winning attempt blocked.

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