NBA

Beal, Okafor help Wizards fend off Rockets for win

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Associated Press
2/23/2013 10:12:55 PM
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WASHINGTON -- The Rockets dominated early with an impressive 3-point shooting display and finished with more attempts than any NBA team this season. The Wizards countered by going big and going inside and it paid off when the former league laughingstock took down another winning team.

Bradley Beal scored 21 points and Emeka Okafor had 17 points, 11 rebounds and made the go-ahead free throw with 5.2 seconds remaining to help the Washington defeat Houston 105-103 on Saturday night.

Trevor Ariza added 18 points and John Wall had 12 points and 11 assists for the Wizards, who came back from a 17-point deficit for their second straight win. Washington, winner of 10 of its last 12 home games, scored 54 points in the paint to offset the 57 points Houston scored on 19 3-pointers.

James Harden scored 27 points and Chandler Parsons had 24 with five 3-pointers for the Rockets, who had won their first two games after the All-Star break. Houston attempted 46 3-pointers, the most in the NBA this season and three shy of the league record. The Rockets made 13 from beyond the arc in the first half, one off the NBA record they tied against Golden State on Feb. 5.

"We just wanted to make it tough, make them make contested shots," Wall said. "In the first half they weren't missing. Second half we kind of got into more defensively, changed some of our game plans up and just executed on the other half."

Initially, the Wizards used a smaller lineup to chase down Houston's 3-point threats. In the fourth quarter, they turned the tables by sticking with the interior combination of 6-foot-11 Nene and the 6-foot-10 Okafor.

Trailing 94-88 with 6:21 remaining, the Wizards scored seven straight points, taking the lead on Nene's layup, one of six lead changes in the final 4:58. Wall broke a 101-101 tie with two free throws with 1:13 remaining, but Harden's layup tied the score with 21.4 seconds left.

With Okafor being defended by the 6-foot-6 Carlos Delfino, the Wizards fed the centre in the low post and he drew a foul.

"I thought that they would stay small," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said of his plan on the final possession.

After making his first free-throw attempt, Okafor missed the second, but Beal sneaked in for the rebound and was fouled with 1.9 seconds remaining. After Beal split his free throws, Harden's half-court attempt was blocked by Ariza.

"They went inside a little bit more," Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. "But really we had turnovers. We had empty possessions. ... We did not have a good second half."

The Wizards are 11-4 against teams with winning records since Jan. 7.

"We just step up to the challenge," said Wizards reserve Chris Singleton. "We executed the game plan the coaches came up with and down the stretch, we're not our old selves. You see us. We grew up."

Patrick Beverley scored a career-high 15 points with three 3-pointers and Delfino had four 3-pointers and scored 12 points for the Rockets.

McHale limited Jeremy Lin, who scored five points, to 26 minutes due to illness.

The Rockets hit from long range in the first quarter, sinking 8 of 14 3s for a 32-22 lead. Parsons made his three attempts and Harden added one during an 11-4 run to close the quarter.

Three more 3-pointers came during a 14-0 spurt as Harden's trey put Houston ahead 48-31.

The Rockets led 57-46 at halftime, but the Wizards fought back with a 19-6 run highlighted by seven points from Ariza and Wall's jump shot for a 73-72 lead with 3:14 remaining in the quarter. The Rockets regained the lead and entered the fourth quarter up 83-77. Houston missed seven of 10 3's in the fourth.

"We shoot a lot of 3s as a team, but I think we got a little 3 happy," McHale said. "We didn't get enough penetration and enough ball movement."

Wall and Okafor each posted double-doubles in Friday's 119-113 win over Denver.

Houston won the first meeting at home 99-93 on Dec. 12.

NOTES: Dallas attempted 49 3-pointers on March 5, 1996. ... During the same successful stretch against teams with winning records, the Wizards are only 2-5 against sub-.500 teams. ... Veteran Jason Collins, acquired on Thursday from the Celtics, joined Washington on Saturday. Asked pregame how he has stuck around the league, the 34-year-old journeyman known for defence said, "Twelve years of being able to foul people. The stats aren't pretty. I do what I do out there." ... Thomas Robinson, Tyler Honeycutt and guard Francisco Garcia, acquired from the Kings on Tuesday, have not been cleared to play for the Rockets.

Bradley Beal Omer Asik (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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