Houston, TX – James Harden returned from a brief one-game absence and netted 17 of his 31 points in the first quarter and the Houston Rockets downed the Washington Wizards, 99-93, on Wednesday.
Harden, who missed Monday's game against the San Antonio Spurs with an ankle injury, was 10-of-20 from the field for Houston, which snapped a three-game skid.
"That was the kind of James game where he just makes plays and attacks," Rockets head coach Kevin McHale said.
Coming off a career high-tying 38-point performance, Jeremy Lin tallied 10 points, six assists and five rebounds for the Rockets, while Chandler Parsons recorded 11 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter in the win.
Bradley Beal had 20 points and six assists for the Wizards, who were 3-3 over their last six games coming in after beginning the year 0-12.
"We just take too many tough, bad shots in situations sometimes," Washington head coach Randy Wittman said. "You have to move the ball and we don't and that gets us in trouble and we fall in a hole.
Houston entered the fourth with a four-point cushion, which increased to 10 after it began the final frame on a 10-4 spurt.
Toney Douglas, who nailed a shot from beyond half court at the first-half buzzer, had seven points during the run and the Rockets led, 78-68, with 8:25 left.
Later, Jordan Crawford's jumper cut the deficit to 90-84 with 2:15 to play, but Parsons hit 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions to put the game away.
Parsons hit a triple from the right wing and after Crawford buried a three- ball at the other end, Parsons, aided by a friendly rim, nailed his second trey from the left corner for a 96-87 Rockets margin with 1:07 to play.
The Rockets jumped out to a 27-17 lead after a quarter of play, but Washington outscored the hosts, 25-18, in the second and cut the deficit to 45-42 heading into the break.
Houston took a 68-64 edge into the final frame.
Omer Asik registered 16 rebounds for the Rockets ... Houston held a 40-30 points in the paint advantage ... Houston turned the ball over 12 times in the first half, but just six times in the second.