NBA: Wizards cruise past reeling Rockets

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Dec 30 2017 12:18 PM

Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) is fouled while shooting the ball by Washington Wizards forward Otto Porter Jr. (22) in the first quarter at Capital One Arena on December 29, 2017. The Wizards won 121-103. Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

WASHINGTON, United States - Point guard Chris Paul's return wasn't enough to boost the Houston Rockets, who endured a fifth straight NBA defeat on Friday, 121-103 to the Washington Wizards.

Otto Porter scored 26 points and Bradley Beal added 21 for the Wizards, who seized the early advantage and were never seriously threatened.

Kelly Oubre Jr. scored 10 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter for the Wizards, who led by nine going into the final period and built that cushion to as many as 28 points before it was over.

James Harden led the Rockets with 20 points. Paul started after missing three games with a thigh strain and scored eight points, but Houston couldn't bounce back from a devastating loss to the Boston Celtics the night before.

Houston arrived in Washington less than 24 hours after falling 99-98 to the Celtics in Boston in a game during which the Rockets led by 26 points.

The Wizards were coming off a tough defeat themselves -- a 113-99 loss to Atlanta on Wednesday.

While the Wizards have often struggled against losing teams like the Hawks this season, they have shown an ability to raise their game against contenders like the Rockets -- whose five-game skid has followed a 14-game winning streak.

Porter scored 14 points in the first half as Washington led 59-48 at the interval -- holding Houston to their fewest first-half points this season.

The Rockets, who average more three-point attempts than any team, connected on just five of 25 from beyond the arc in the first half and finished 14 of 48.

Houston trimmed the deficit to 72-66 with 3:50 left in the third quarter, but that was as close as they would come as Washington made 53.4 percent of their shots from the field and the Rockets were held to 42.7 percent shooting.

Despite Paul's return, Houston remained without multiple key contributors, including center Clint Capela -- still nursing a facial fracture. Luc Mbah a Moute, with a dislocated right shoulder, and veteran center Nene were also unavailable for Houston.

© Agence France-Presse