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    John Wall takes charge as Harden-less Rockets defeat Kings

    Jan 3, 2021

    HOUSTON — John Wall scored 28 points and the Houston Rockets beat the Sacramento Kings 102-94 on Saturday (Sunday, Manila time) despite playing without an injured James Harden.

    Harden, who sat out with a sprained right ankle, was not listed on the injury report and coach Stephen Silas did not mention his injury in his pregame availability. The team announced that he wouldn’t play about 38 minutes before the game was scheduled to begin.

    The Rockets scored the first nine points of the fourth quarter to extend their lead to 92-81 with about 8½ minutes left. Eric Gordon led the team in that stretch, making a 3-pointer and three free throws.

    Sacramento ended a scoring drought of more than 3½ minutes soon after that on an alley-oop dunk by Richaun Holmes.

    Both teams struggled to score after that as they combined to miss 10 shots in a row. Gordon finally made a shot for Houston with just less than five minutes to go, and Wall added a bucket a few seconds later to extend the lead to 96-83.

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    The Kings used an 8-2 run, capped by four points from Harrison Barnes, to get within 98-91 with less than a minute to go. But Christian Wood responded with a dunk to put the game out of reach.

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    Harden had started Houston’s first three games this season and is averaging a league-leading 37 points with 11 assists.

    De’Aaron Fox had 23 points for the Kings, who lost to the Rockets for the second straight game. Wood had 20 points and 16 rebounds and Gordon added 21 points for Houston.

    The Kings cut the lead to 2 on a 3-pointer by Buddy Hield with about 7 ½ minutes left in the third quarter. Wall made four quick points after that to stretch the lead to 79-73.

    The Rockets were up by seven late in the third before Fox scored the last five points of the quarter to cut the deficit to 83-81 entering the fourth.

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    Kings: Barnes added 19 points with seven rebounds. … Hield had 17 points and made five 3-pointers. … Sacramento made 9 of 28 3-pointers.

    Rockets: Sterling Brown had 11 points and six rebounds. … Houston made 13 3-pointers.


    Kings: Sacramento visits Golden State on Monday before playing seven straight home games.

    Rockets: Houston hosts Dallas on Monday night and will play four of its next five games at home.


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      PHOTO: AP
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