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Porter scores 26, Wizards hand Rockets 5th straight loss
By RICH DUBROFF
WASHINGTON (AP) The Houston Rockets won 25 of their first 29 games to notch the NBA's best record, then quickly entered their worst tailspin in nearly five years.
Otto Porter Jr. scored 26 points, Bradley Beal and Kelly Oubre Jr. had 21 each, and the Washington Wizards beat the Rockets 121-103 Friday night for Houston's fifth straight loss. It's the longest skid for the Rockets since dropping seven straight from Jan. 9-19, 2013.
NBA scoring leader James Harden matched his season low with 20 points for the Rockets. Chris Paul returned after missing three games with a strained groin and had eight points and six assists in 26 minutes.
Houston had completed a 14-game winning streak before the alarming slide.
"We just haven't had a rhythm in these last five games, quite frankly," Harden said. "We had pretty good spurts, but just a consistent, four-quarter game, we haven't had that. So hopefully we get back home and kind of buckle down a little bit."
A night after blowing a 26-point lead in Boston, the Rockets held their last lead midway through the first quarter en route to their worst defeat of the season. Houston has by far the most 3-pointers in the league this season but was held to 29.2 percent (14 for 48) from deep.
Though Paul was back, the Rockets were missing center Clint Capela with an orbital fracture for the second straight game.
"Mentally we're fine," Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni said. "We've got some tired legs and missing the big guy in the middle to give us a force to the rim. ... We've got all kinds of excuses, but that doesn't work. It doesn't matter. We lost. They won. They're the better team tonight."
Rockets: Houston is 15-2 with Harden and Paul in the lineup. ... D'Antoni said he hadn't looked at the NBA's report on the final two minutes of his team's loss at Boston on Thursday night, when Harden was called for two offensive fouls in the final 7.3 seconds. "I don't care. It's over," D'Antoni said. ... F Ryan Anderson had a season-high 12 rebounds.
Wizards: Tied a team record with 18 3-pointers. The last time they hit that many was Nov. 6, 2013 against Philadelphia. "As long as they're wide-open, we should shoot them," coach Scott Brooks said. ... Porter matched a career high with seven 3-pointers. ... F Mike Scott was away from the team for the birth of his daughter.
HOLDING HARDEN AND PAUL DOWN
Harden entered the game averaging 32.5 points but shot only 14 times, making seven.
Paul missed eight of his 11 field goal attempts.
"They're human. We all have games like that," Beal said. "I'm not going to sit here and be na�ve to it because those are two really good players. James has had it rolling all year. We're fortunate that he had an off night."
Brooks coached Harden for three seasons when both were with Oklahoma City.
"James is as gifted as any player in this league," Brooks said. "I thought our guys did a good job of guarding him. Those two guys aren't easy to guard."
SUB-PAR AGAINST SUB-PAR
The Wizards are 9-10 against teams that are under .500 this season. G John Wall said that it's simple to turn that record around.
We have to play the same exact way," Wall said.
Rockets: Host the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night.
Wizards: Host Chicago on Sunday.
For more NBA coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball
Updated December 29, 2017