HOUSTON -- Still with no answer for James Harden, the Wizards found a way to overcome him by putting eight players in double figures and coming from behind to erase a six-point deficit late in the fourth to win 123-122 Saturday at Toyota Center.
The Rockets (25-25) had two chances to win it at the end with 10 seconds left, with Harden driving on Bradley Beal but overshooting the rim because of help defense from Jared Dudley and John Wall's block attempt over the op. Josh Smith grabbed the offensive rebound and couldn't put it back as Wall took that rebound and threw the ball in the air to let the clock expire.
The Wizards (21-24) were led by John Wall (19 points, 13 assists and eight rebounds), Ramon Sessions (17 points), Jared Dudley (16 points, five rebounds, five assists), Marcin Gortat (13 points, 11 rebounds), Gary Neal (12 points), Bradley Beal (11 points) and Garrett Temple (11 points).
Harden had a game-high 40 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds, followed by Dwight Howard (20 points, seven rebounds), Trevor Ariza (17 points) and Patrick Beverley (15 points). Beverely wasn't able to foul Wall before he tossed the ball down the court on the final play.
The win ended a three-game skid for Washington, which had a players-only meeting called by Dudley after a home loss to the Denver Nuggets.
- Dudley was back in the starting lineup as they went away from the traditional two bigs with Nene and Gortat. Howard had 13 points in the first quarter but when Nene came in his streak ended quick. Too strong and too good on position defense. Tensions got out of hand, however, when the two got tangled. Howard was hit with an first-quarter technical foul for tussling with Dudley. Then after he squared off with Nene at 8:08 of fourth, Howard shoved him and was instantly hit with another. Nene was assessed a double technical foul.
- Down 116-110, coach Randy Wittman went to an effective strategy of putting Clint Capela on the foul line starting at 3:06. It worked as they were able to tie the score at 117 on a three by Wall.
- Harden was efficient like he was when making 13 of 23 shots in the Dec. 9 meeting when he had 42 points. He was allowed to catch the ball when and where he wanted to and he danced with it. The Wizards didn't trap him hard and he was able to get to his spots, force the switches he wanted knowing that their simplified coverages would be a liability. Temple drew most of the assignment and the Wizards tried to take the ball out of his hands but Harden was hitting contested threes like on one was there. His sixth one put the Rockets up 113-107 before Washington made its run. Temple fouled out with 32 seconds left but the Wizards compensated with team defense. Harden made 12 of 20 shots in this one. That's a total of 58% accuracy in two games vs. Washington.
- Porter, who had to leave the previous game because of tightness in his back, started but only played six minutes in the first half. He was looking for his shot and only had five points but rookie Kelly Oubre didn't get any time beyond spot minutes. Porter rode an exercise bike in the tunnel during the second half to stay loose. He finished with nine points in just 13 minutes and wasn't on the floor to end the game.
- Sessions exploded for 12 points in the third. He made all four of his shots, including two three-pointers, and had a steal and assist on a go-ahead three by Dudley for an 85-84 edge. The Wizards don't suffer offensively when Sessions comes in for Wall, who picked up his fourth foul with xxx left in the third. The Wizards were averaging 102 points per 100 possessions, according to the NBA's SVU player tracking data, heading into the game.
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