Harden scored a game-high 31 points but his supporting cast was the difference in the sending the Wizards home with their ninth loss in 10 road games. Toney Douglas, Patrick Patterson and Chandler Parsons all took turns leading big runs, with Parsons nailing two three-pointers in the final two minutes that were too much to overcome.
“Sometimes, the other team goes on a bigger run than you do,” rookie Bradley Beal said after scoring a team-high 20 points. “It just so happened that they ended up pulling it out at the end, but I can’t complain with the way we were playing at all.”
According to multiple league sources, the Oklahoma City Thunder offered Harden to the Wizards in a deal that would’ve cost Beal and second-year forward Chris Singleton. The Wizards passed, in part because owner Ted Leonsis was unwilling to give Harden the five-year, $80 million contract extension that he was looking to receive, those sources said. The Thunder eventually dealt Harden, the reigning sixth man of the year and an Olympic gold medalist, to Houston in late October.
The Rockets certainly aren’t complaining about landing the NBA’s fifth-leading scorer, who has generated some excitement for the team with his cartoonish facial hair and electrifying game.
“He’s a top-notch player,” Coach Randy Wittman said. “Any time you add a player like that to your team, he’s going to make you better. He’s a hard cover.”
Harden had missed his team’s previous game, an overtime loss to San Antonio, with a sprained ankle, but he moved around just fine — and with little resistance — against the Wizards in his sixth 30-point game this season.
Beal complemented his second 20-point game this season with six assists and four rebounds before fouling out after drilling his third three-pointer with 12.1 seconds remaining. He has scored in double figures in six consecutive games.
The Wizards (3-16) had won their first road game of the season the night before in New Orleans, where Jordan Crawford scored a team-high 26 points and personally outscored the Hornets, 12-10, in the fourth quarter. On Wednesday, the Rockets limited him to eight points on 3-of-14 shooting through the first three periods.
Crawford had nine points and two assists in the fourth quarter, but the Rockets had more weapons to counter his offensive outbursts.
“It’s hard, really, because we always have chances it win,” Crawford said.