Fear the beard! James Harden scored 31 points with his eyes closed and dragged the Rockets past the Wizards despite 19 points on 12 shots from Emeka Okafor and a 20/4/6 night from Bradley Beal.
Soooo this James Harden guy I keep hearing about on them internets is pretty good, eh? Harden had 31 points and the Rockets held off the Wizards in the fourth quarter to get the 99-93 victory. Since we have covered Harden extensively, let's run through my thoughts, quarter-by-quarter.
The Wizards came into tonight's contest 3-15, but I still didn't expect Harden to kick things off by matching the Wizards first-quarter offensive output by himself. At least Bradley Beal pegged the Rockets mascot in the head during a fast break without the home announcers missing a beat. Also: airballs are bad for morale.
Whatever Randy Wittman said to the team at the quarter break must have made an impression, because Kevin Seraphin came out and promptly jumped on Omer Asik's head. Kevin McHale let Harden cool on the sidelines a little too long and the Wizards came creeping back like the Tortoise and the Hare. Well, if they were playing basketball and the Hare committed way too many unforced turnovers. My mood was vastly improved watching Nene and Bradley Beal play like they practiced things together. It was unimproved watching Jordan Crawford airball a deep three with a few ticks left on the clock in the half and the score tied. Then the Rockets drained a halfcourt heave. Airballs, y'all!
Houston jumped out as things got started in the third, but the Wizards have Emeka Okafor. HE'LL SAVE EVERY ONE OF US! For the meantime, he stopped the bleeding and the Rockets were back to their winning ways. Eventually, the road team took the lead, as the home announcers delivered dissertations on [Houston player] needing to score points while keeping [Wizards team] from scoring points. Somewhere, John Madden is nodding sagely. But then the Rockets apparently put these doctoral theses into practice, taking a 12-point lead. The Wizards rallied again and ended up being down by four with the fourth yet to play.
The curtain rose on the final frame. The team struggled offensively again, but Nene is smooth as his name. There's something novel about a Wizards player with a large contract who contributes meaningfully. It's an up-and-down ride, but the Wiz got to within four with three and half minutes left. ALL ACCORDING TO PLAN. But then things fell apart on cue as Chandler Parsons dual-wielded a pair of dagger threes to kill the comeback. The rest was just delaying the inevitable -- thank Beal for putting a three point shot HIGH off the glass. Somewhere, John Wall is remembering that banked three point shot against the Celtics in his rookie season.
All in all, the Wizards played hard once more, but didn't have enough offense to push the comeback through to fruition. This is going to happen a lot this year, but fear not: it's all according to plan.