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Game Notebook 30, Wizards at Rockets: Wiz escape #RimGate, James Harden

Wizards 104
Rockets 103

December 29, 2014 – Toyota Center, Houston, TX

If you don’t remember anything else from this game, remember this: twice in the 4th quarter the Wizards lost a comfortable lead – one of 11 points that ended up in a tie at 84 and one of nine points in which the Rockets cut it to two – and twice in the 4th quarter the Wizards squirmed away like the Greased Up Deaf Guy from Family Guy, prancing off into an unseen distance, this all despite the outrageous efforts of a pesky James Harden. Harden scored 13 points in the 4th quarter including all seven points for the Rockets in the final 19 seconds and finished with 33. Alas, it was the resilient efforts of the Wizards led by Bradley Beal and his breakout 33-point performance that closed this one out and nothing could possibly feel better going into their next road game than a win like this.

The game was halted just 48 seconds in due to a crooked rim on the Rockets’ end of the floor. Unconfirmed sources told Hoop District the damage was due to simultaneous bricks by Dwight Howard free throws and Josh Smith midrange shots during pregame. Howard tried to fix the rim himself but no dice, so the arena staff spent 35 minutes to replace the entire hoop and, subsequently, Howard has been removed from the Toyota Center engineering department.

Rim delay shenanigans

Like an undercooked chili dog topped with Shoppers brand melted American cheese, this was a contest comprised of runs. The Wizards ended the first half on a 13-5 run to take a one point lead after trailing by as many seven. To open up the second half, they outscored the Rockets 25-8 as Paul Pierce transformed the results of his weekly geriatrics into an all out rampage, scoring nine points during that run and 11 for the quarter.

But when Randy Wittman unloaded his bench – and for some ghastly reason, Drew Gooden included – to close out the 3rd quarter, the Rockets welcomed the opportunity Randy’s decision gave them and went on a 14-7 run to cut the lead to 11, strangling momentum heading into the final period. After cutting the lead to nine early in the 4th, the Rockets’ Corey Brewer came alive, slashing to the rim, getting layups and drawing contact. The Rockets went on a 13-2 and we were right back to square one, tied at 84.

This is where the Wizards were so impressively resilient. A 9-0 run quickly commenced, spearheaded by John Wall who darted with the ball down court after stops on defense, utilizing his arsenal with a kick out pass for a Beal 3, followed quickly by a smart dump off to Gortat in transition for a dunk.

Immediately, the Rockets would climb back. Trevor Ariza and James Harden helped cut the Wizards lead to two with a 7-0 run, only to have the Wizards AGAIN respond, this time with Beal drawing contact on two separate possessions – making all of his free throws, of course – and Paul Pierce simply feeling it from downtown.

Despite the relentlessness and borderline insane push by James Harden, the game would ultimately be decided at the stripe and none better to do so than the #HouseOfGuards. Wall and Beal combined for 6-of-6 from the line in the final 30 seconds and the Wizards prevailed in a close, nail-biting affair in Texas.

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