WASHINGTON, DC – James Harden needed every one of his 59 points against the Washington Wizards.
Harden made one of two free throws with 2.4 seconds left to give the Houston Rockets a 159-158 victory over Washington on Wednesday night.
"I didn't know we were going to have to score about 160 points to win but whatever it takes it took," Houston coach Mike D'Antoni said. "A lot of great individual performances. They played unbelievable. They didn't miss anything. We just let down a little bit and they made everything."
Washington didn't make everything, but did shot 62.6% from the field and made 20 of 36 3-pointers. Houston shot 53.4% and made 42.6% of its 3s.
Bradley Beal scored 46 points for Washington, hitting three throws with 8.1 seconds left to tie it at 158.
"I hate moral victories," Beal said. "But it's always a good feeling knowing that when we lose, it's always one or two things we can fix."
Harden had 38 points in the second half — 21 in the third quarter and 17 in the fourth.
"The only way we'll get to where we want to go is our defensive efforts and it has to be consistent," Harden said. "Right now we're not consistent and that's why we go through tough times like that. That's what the course of the year is for. We just try and build those habits and continue to keep building."
Harden was 18 of 32 from the field, 6 of 14 from 3-point range, and made 17 of 18 free throws. He also had nine assists in 37 minutes.
Russell Westbrook had just three points in the first three quarters, then scored 14 in the fourth quarter and finished with his second triple-double of the season. He had 12 assists and 10 rebounds.
Clint Capela added 21 points and 12 rebounds to help Houston improved to 3-1.
Rui Hachimura had 23 points in his home debut for the Wizards, Davis Bertans added 21. Washington dropped to 1-3.
Wizards coach Scott Brooks is happy with his reconfigured team. Six of the nine players he used during the game are new to the team.
"We were one play from winning an exciting game," he said.
Rockets: F P.J. Tucker began the season with three games of at least 15 points. "He's so important that he was a couple of minutes late for the plane, and I told the guys, 'We're waiting for him. He's the only guy shooting the ball,'" D'Antoni joked. ... G Austin Rivers was assessed a technical foul in the fourth quarter.
Wizards: F Troy Brown had 14 points in his first game. Brown missed the first three games with a left calf injury. ... G C.J. Miles (left foot) has been assigned to the G League Capital City Go-Go on a rehab assignment. .F Admiral Schofield has also been sent to the Go-Go and G Justin Robinson has been recalled from the G League.
WORLD SERIES FEVER: As Brooks walked into his pregame press conference, he joked, "Houston vs. Washington, all night."
The game began about the same time as Game 7 of the World Series. "We won't call many timeouts tonight," Brooks said. "We won't call any challenges. Make sure you tell Mike to do the same thing because we have another game we'd like to watch tonight."
D'Antoni joked in return. "You know it is baseball," he said. "We'll be through by the fourth inning."
HACHIMURA AT HOME: Hachimura, the highest drafted Japanese-born player in NBA history, had lots of fans in his home debut, including Shinsuke Sugiyama, the Japanese ambassador to the U.S.
He met with Sugiyama in front of Washington's locker room after the game.
"I saw a lot of Japanese today," Hachimura said. "They had my jerseys, the flag and stuff. It was good to see."
Rockets: At Brooklyn Nets on Friday night.
Wizards: Host Minnesota on Saturday night.
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