WASHINGTON (AP) There was a pair of rain delays at an NBA game on Saturday night, a curious happening followed by another strange turn of events: The Houston Rockets built a 25-point lead, lost all of it and then some, then rallied from five down late in the fourth quarter for a 114-107 win over the Washington Wizards.
Long after the stoppages of 35 and 22 minutes because of a leak in the roof, James Hardin tied the game with a driving layup with 2:33 to play, then gave the Rockets the lead again - this time for good - with a three-point play with 1:54 remaining. He finished with 25 points to lead the Rockets, who made only four field goals in the final period yet closed with a 17-5 run.
John Wall led Washington's comeback and finished with 23 points and 10 assists, Trevor Ariza had 23 points and 14 rebounds, and Kevin Seraphin - another catalyst in Washington's surge - had all of his season-high 18 points in the second half. The Wizards lost their fourth straight home game and fell to 2-14 against teams that are currently .500 or better.
Dwight Howard, who dominated the game well into the second half and did the most to entertain the fans during the interruptions in play, fell apart in the fourth quarter, committing four turnovers and missing both of his field goals and all four free throw attempts. He finished with 23 points.
Jeremy Lin had 18 points and eight assists for the Rockets, who are 1-1 halfway through a four-game road trip.
A leak in the roof caused the officials to hit the pause button 9 seconds into second quarter and again at the start of the second half. Two trash cans and an array of towels were spread at the midcourt line close to the scorer's table during the first delay to catch the apparent remnants of the heavy rains that had fallen in the area for much of the day.
Several people were in the rafters, seemingly trying to fix the problem. Howard passed the time with a couple of young fans who had been sitting on the front row, playing blocking their shots.
When play resumed, the Rockets went on a 34-13 run to seemingly break open a tie game.
Officials also delayed the start of the second half, and the towels and one of the trash cans appeared. The Rockets, already with a 17-point lead, again were able to get themselves in gear faster than the Wizards, going on a 15-7 run after the restart.
The wet mess was an obvious black eye for the Wizards franchise, and the team seemed intent on matching it with their play. After shooting 62 percent in the first quarter - before the first delay - Washington made only 6 of 24 field goal attempts (25 percent) for the rest of the half.
Omri Casspi appeared the most refreshed, coming off the bench to hit a 3-pointer, a pair of free throws and a driving dunk to start the Rockets' dominating run. The Wizards had trouble finding an answer for Howard, who had the make-the-crowd-gasp moment after the second delay when he caught a lob from Lin and rammed home a monster two-handed dunk followed by a leisurely few seconds of hanging on the rim.
But the Wizards came back. Then the Rockets came back. The wet floor never did.
NOTES: The Rockets are 11-3 against the Eastern Conference; the Wizards are 3-9 against the West. ... Washington has lost seven of eight at home. ... Both teams were coming off their lowest-scoring games of the season the previous night. The Rockets scored 80 in a loss to the Atlanta Hawks; they passed that with 7:20 to go in the third quarter against the Wizards. Washington had an NBA-season low 66 points against the Indiana Pacers. ... Houston F Chandler Parson missed his third consecutive game with a sore right knee. ... Rockets coach Kevin McHale on the problems his team has had getting the ball inside: "I would say feeding the post became a lost art when the centers started shooting 3s."
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