Jordan Crawford looks on as the Wizards fall to 3-16 (US PRESSWIRE)
HOUSTON - James Harden scored 31 points to lift the Houston Rockets to a 99-93 victory over the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night.
After suffering a sprained ankle last Saturday against Dallas and missing Monday night's loss to San Antonio, Harden returned to lead the Rockets to their first victory under coach Kevin McHale in more than a month.
The Wizards threatened late in the fourth quarter, but Chandler Parsons scored eight straight points for Houston in the final three minutes, including two 3-pointers, to secure the victory. Parsons finished with 18 points and eight rebounds.
It was Houston's first victory since McHale rejoined the team last Saturday after taking a leave of absence for almost a month following the death of his 23-year-old daughter. McHale took a leave of absence Nov. 10 to be with his family as his daughter's health worsened. Alexandra "Sasha" McHale died Nov. 24 of complications from Lupus.
Rookie Bradley Beal had 20 points to lead Washington, which had five players in double-figures, including four starters. Emeka Okafor, a Houston native, had a season-high 19 points for Washington to go with six rebounds, two blocks and two steals.
After the Wizards scored the opening two points, Houston didn't trail until a brief spell midway through the third quarter. Harden hit a 3-pointer with less than 7 minutes left in the third, giving Houston a one-point lead, and the Rockets never trailed again after that.
Beal hit a 3 with one minute remaining in the first half to tie the game at 40. The Wizards trailed by as many as 14 in the first half before going on a 9-0 run late in the second quarter.
Toney Douglas hit a 3-pointer from beyond the half-court line as time expired in the second to put the Rockets up 45-42 at the break.
Jordan Crawford started at point for Washington, while A.J. Price remained out with a fractured right hand suffered last Saturday against Golden State. John Wall has missed the entire season with a stress injury in his left knee.
The Wizards also played without Trevor Ariza, who strained his left calf last Tuesday against Miami, and Trevor Booker (right knee), who started the first six games.