James Harden scored 24 of his game-high 38 points in the first half as Houston put up 71 in the first two quarters and went on a 120-104 victory over the visiting Washington Wizards on Tuesday night.
The Rockets will go into the playoffs with the NBA’s best record — they are now 63-15 — for the first time in team history. Houston saw its 11-game winning streak end on Sunday with a loss to the San Antonio Spurs, but the Rockets came out firing on Tuesday.
When the Wizards and Houston played in Washington in December, the Rockets were handed a 121-103 loss as Harden scored only 20 points.
Harden, the NBA’s leading scorer, did much better in this game, nearly finishing with a triple-double as he added 10 rebounds and nine assists.
In the first half, Harden went 7-for-11 from the field along with making 8 of 9 free throws. He also had seven assists and five rebounds as Houston rolled to a 71-49 lead at the break.
Harden scored 11 in a row for the Rockets later in the second quarter as they slowly pulled away and took a 62-40 lead with just under three minutes remaining.
However, Harden did more damage in the second half as the Wizards simply could not control him or rally.
Clint Capela added a double-double for the Rockets with 21 points and 10 rebounds, and Gerald Green (16 points) also scored in double figures for Houston.
Washington guard John Wall was back in the lineup for a second time since sitting out more than two months after knee surgery. He finished with nine points and 10 assists in 33 minutes.
Wall played Saturday as Washington locked up a spot in the playoffs by beating the Charlotte Hornets. He had 15 points and 14 assists in that game, but the team held him out of Sunday’s matchup with the Chicago Bulls.
Bradley Beal topped the Wizards with 27 points as five Washington players ended up in double figures.
—Field Level Media