12/30/2017 8:08:38 AM

Wizards cruise past reeling Rockets

Wizards cruise past reeling Rockets

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.

"We moved the ball," said Washington's star guard John Wall, who scored 17 points and said the key to the win was unselfish play.

"A lot of guys in double figures," Wall said. "We didn't care who was getting shots. Just played team basketball, team defence. It's simple."

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.

"When we play the good teams... We come and play well with a lot of energy," Wall said. "We have to find a way to keep this going and when we play a team that is below .500 we have to play the exact same way."

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.

Excuses don't matter

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.

Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni insisted Houston's skid hadn't sapped morale.

"We're fine," D'Antoni said. "We have some tired legs and we're missing the big guy in the middle that gives us the force to the rim.

"James was tired tonight, no question about it. Chris just came back. We have all kind of excuses, but that doesn't work and it doesn't matter. We lost, they won and they were the better team tonight."

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