WIZARDS 135, Rockets 131

James Harden puts up 54, but Rockets fall to Wizards

James Harden is winless with the headband. Rockets.com

Game 19 found the Houston Rockets staring at a .500 record with the intent of gaining ground in a tight Western Conference. At the end of a three-game road trip, the Rockets faced off against an internally conflicted Washington Wizards team that started the season off poorly much like Houston, but - like Houston - had recently began to recompose themselves.

Houston exploded out of the gate behind an early Eric Gordon 3-point barrage. A headbanded James Harden would back Gordon up with 13 of his own as the rockets exploded out to an early 17 point lead. Sloppy basketball would leave Clint Capela and Marquese Chriss in foul trouble, allowing the Wizards to crawl back. The Rockets would go 1-10 from three in the second and the Wizards would seize the lead late in the half behind a series of John Wall layup drives.

While the score remained close, the Wizards would maintain their lead throughout the third quarter. Harden and Gordon would continue their unconscious assault on the Wizards and as the third quarter drew to a close, the Rockets would seize a 4-point lead. Harden and Gordon poured in 44 points and 27 points respectively.

The fourth quarter would erupt into an all out dog fight with six ties over the final six minutes. Clint Capela would throw down and Harden alley-oop to tie the game at 125 before a PJ Tucker strip on the subsequent possession would give the Rockets the final opportunity to win in regulation. Gordon’s last chance shot would be blocked, however, and for the second time on their three game road trip, the Rockets would head to overtime.

Houston’s thin bench would finally prove to be the difference in the contest, and as fatigue set in, the Wizards slowly pulled away to a four-point victory behind John Wall’s 36 points and Bradley Beal’s 32. Harden would finish with 54 points and 13 assists, while Gordon followed with a season-high 36 points.

Game Notes

The Rockets played without Chris Paul for the second straight night, as he was kept out with what was described as a sore left leg. Gerald Green sat as well with a sore right ankle.

James Harden was the second player this season to score 50-plus points in a loss. Including tonight, Harden accounts for three of the four most recent 50-point losing performances, both of which came last season. Harden is the 6th player this season with a 50-point game.

Eric Gordon’s 36 points are tied for his second highest in his career. Gordon scored 36 points once before in 2010 in a win against the Timberwolves. Gordon also finished with a career high tying 8 three-pointers. Gordon knocked down five 3-pointers in Saturday’s matchup, but prior to that he had gone 15-60 in his previous 7 starts.

Shooting guard Danuel House was called up from the G-League to fill in with Paul and Green both out, and was fed 28 minutes in his first game with the Rockets. The newcomer finished with four points, three rebounds, and one assist.

Clint Capela added his 8th double-double of the season with 17 points, 14 rebounds, and four blocks.

Harden currently holds a lifetime winless streak when sporting a headband. He does average 54 points, 13 assists, and 3 steals, though.

Next Up:

Rockets at home versus the Dallas Mavericks, Wednesday at 7 p.m.

 

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Houston gets the lopsided win

Valdez, Astros dominate the Angels in 10-0 rout in Anaheim

Framber Valdez was dominant against the Angels on Monday night. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

With a series win at home over the weekend, the Astros started their final regular-season road trip on Monday, squaring off against the Angels in Anaheim. They held the momentum firmly in their favor all night, dominating both sides of the game to start the series with a victory.

Final Score: Astros 10, Angels 0

Astros' Record: 89-61, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Framber Valdez (11-5)

Losing Pitcher: Jaime Barria (2-4)

Siri leads off with a bang

With Jose Altuve being given the night off, Houston gave Jose Siri a shot at the leadoff spot, and he delivered to start the opener in Anaheim. He launched a missile to left field, 426 feet, to put the Astros in front 1-0 before the Angels could record an out. Later that same inning, they strung together three singles, the third being an RBI by Carlos Correa to double the lead.

Valdez goes seven shutout innings

That gave Framber Valdez a lead to work with as he stepped on the rubber in the bottom of the inning, and he didn't give it up as he would post a dominant start. He started with a 1-2-3 first, worked around a couple of singles in the second, then used a double play to face the minimum in the third.

He retired Los Angeles in order again in the fourth, stranded a two-out single in the fifth and a single and a walk in the sixth. He had his worst inning of the night in the seventh, giving up a leadoff single then loading the bases on back-to-back two-out walks. He'd escape the jam, though, keeping the shutout alive and finalizing his impressive line: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 98 P.

Astros take the opener in lopsided fashion

Houston tacked on an insurance run in the top of the eighth, getting a one-out double by Correa to set up an RBI single by Marwin Gonzalez, pushing the lead to 3-0. Things escalated from there, as another single put two on base for Martin Maldonado, who blew the game open with a three-run homer to make it a six-run lead.

Brooks Raley took over for Valdez in the bottom of the inning, and with a 1-2-3 inning, made it his eighth appearance in a row without allowing a run. The Astros didn't let up in the top of the ninth, getting two hits and a walk to load the bases before a grand slam by Gonzalez made it 10-0 and gave him 5 RBI in a two-inning span. Seth Martinez, called up by the Astros earlier in the day, made his big-league debut in the bottom of the ninth and closed out the lopsided win to put Houston's magic number at 6.

Up Next: The second of this four-game set will be another 8:38 PM Central start on Tuesday. Jose Urquidy (7-3, 3.38 ERA) will take the mound for the Astros, going opposite Packy Naughton (0-2, 4.32 ERA) for the Angels.

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