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by: Kris Gardner, United States Basketball Writers Association member. Credentialed media member since 1997. USBWA approved online journalist. Voter of Lowe's Senior CLASS, Naismith, USBWA, and Wooden awards.
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Harden scores 16 of his 33 in the 4th as Rockets top Kings, 122-119
John Wall and Christian Wood combine for 43 points, 18 rebounds, and 12 assists
POSTED: December 31, 2020 -- 11:30 p.m. CT
HOUSTON, TX (Toyota Center) -- Stephen Silas earned the first victory of his NBA head coaching career as the Houston Rockets defeated the Sacramento Kings 122-119 Thursday evening.
"This one means a lot because this one is actually my win," Coach Silas said during his postgame media session. "And, I'll cherish it for sure." Silas did pick up wins as an interim / fill-in for Steve Clifford in Charlotte a few seasons ago; however, those wins count in Clifford's win column.
Silas mentioned John Wall gave him the game ball after the game.
James Harden scored a game-high 33 points -- 16 in the 4th quarter to help the Rockets erase a seven point deficit in the fourth.
"He's an amazing talent," Silas said of Harden. "He makes other players better with his smarts and knowing the angles. He stayed aggressive. He's the best in the world at those step back threes; and, he's one of the best players in the world. Period."
Silas added of Harden, "To see it up and close and personal and have him do it on the team I'm coaching is amazing."
"Just tried to put my footprints on the game," Harden said matter-of-fact after the game.
John Wall said of Harden's fourth quarter performance, "When we need a bucket and get to crunch time situations, we know what he's capable of."
Harden also had 8 assists and 6 rebounds. He did have 6 of Houston's 18 team turnovers.
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Both teams like to play at a fast pace; and, the first quarter was a prime example of the quick hitters and quick offense. The Kings outscored the Rockets 33-32 in the first. The Kings shot 57.1% in the first while the Rockets shot 50.0 from the floor.
Harden (9 points) and John Wall (10 points) combined for 19 of Houston's 31 points in the second quarter. Houston outscored Sacramento 31-26 in the second quarter to lead 63-59 at halftime.
When Eric Gordon made a three-point shot, the Rockets (2-1 this season) led 87-77 with 3:28 remaining in the third quarter. However, Houston did not score the rest of the quarter. The Rockets missed 3 field goal attempts and committed 2 turnovers in the final 3:28; and, the Kings cut Houston's lead to 87-86 with a 9-0 run.
Sacramento turned the 87-77 deficit into a 99-92 lead with 8:24 left in the fourth period. The Kings led 110-106 with 3:48 remaining in the game.
Harden followed up his own missed shot with a putback layup to cut Houston's deficit to 2 (110-108); then, Harden nailed a 29-foot three-point basket for a 111-110 Houston lead with 3:05 on the clock. Then, Harden made two free throws to increase Houston's lead to 113-110. Next, Harden dished to a wide open Christian Wood in the paint; and Wood's slam dunk put Houston on top 115-110 with 2 minutes remaining.
"Playing with him makes me look great," a smiling C-Wood said during his postgame media session. "I'm going to keep setting these picks as long as I can."
Wood finished the game with 21 points and 12 rebounds for his second double-double (out of 3 games) this season.
John Wall scored 22 points, dished out 9 assists, and pulled down 6 rebounds. He also had 5 turnovers.
The last time Wall played (regular season/playoffs) was for the Washington Wizards on December 26, 2018.
"I hadn't play a game in 735 days," Wall acknowledged after the game.
Wall admitted he thought about Thursday's game being his first regular season game since 2018.
"I thought about it all day," Wall said. "I couldn't sleep last night. I thought about it all day; but, once I get between those four lines (on the basketball court), I was fine. I was happy to be able to compete with some of the best guys in this league."
NEXT: The Rockets will face the Kings once again in their next game which takes place Saturday, January 2, at 4 p.m. Central Time.
NOTES: P.J. Tucker had 6 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocks without taking a single shot in 32 minutes of play. Dating back to 2017-18, Tucker has played 30+ minutes with three or fewer FGA 31 times.
Eric Gordon averaged 16.6 ppg and 3.0 threes made per game on 35.2% shooting in the 21 wins he appeared in last season compared to 11.5 points per game and 2.1 threes made per game on 26.4% shooting in 15 losses.
The Rockets have recorded 60 or more points in the paint in two of the three games this season after doing so seven times in the 72 games in 2019-20.
John Wall entered this season joining Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson as the only players in NBA history with career averages of at least 19.0 ppg, 9.0 apg and 4.0 rpg.
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