James Harden scores 38, flirts with triple-double as Rockets rout Wizards
Houston guard James Harden falls just a rebound short of a triple-doubles. AP

HOUSTON — James Harden had 38 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, leading the Houston Rockets to a 120-104 victory over the Washington Wizards on Tuesday night (Wednesday, Manila time).

Wizards coach Scott Brooks said before the game that Harden, whom he coached for three years in Oklahoma City, is deserving of the league's MVP award this season. Harden then showed again why, just missing his fifth triple-double of the season.

With the Toyota Center crowd chanting "MVP! MVP!" late in the fourth quarter, Harden put on a show on three straight possessions. He drained two deep step-back jumpers and was fouled on a reverse layup that he kissed off the glass and in for a three-point play.

At 63-15, the Rockets already clinched home-court advantage throughout the playoffs but weren't interested in losing any momentum against Washington.

Houston led by as many as 24 points, was ahead 71-49 lead at the half and entered the fourth up 95-75.

Clint Capela had 21 points and 10 rebounds for Houston, while Gerald Green had 16 points off the bench on 4-of-8 shooting from beyond the arc and one authoritative two-handed slam in the fourth.

Bradley Beal led Washington with 27 points, while Markieff Morris had 14 and Otto Porter, Jr. added 12.

In just his second game back following knee surgery in January, John Wall had nine points and 10 assists in 33 minutes, shooting 3 for 10 from the floor. After helping the Wizards clinch a playoff berth in his first game back in two months on Saturday, Wall sat out Sunday's loss at Chicago.

The Wizards fell to 20-19 on the road this season after their fourth straight road loss. They've lost by an average of 13.5 points in that skid.

After Brooks was dissatisfied with the Wizards' perimeter defense in allowing 18 3s on 34 attempts on Sunday in Chicago, Washington showed little improvement on Tuesday, as Houston made 16 of 46 from 3.

Washington fell into a tie with Milwaukee for seventh place in the East.

TIP-INS

Wizards: Kelly Oubre Jr. and Mike Scott scored in double figures off the bench, adding 11 and 10 points, respectively … Washington committed 17 turnovers, while Houston had just nine … Washington was outscored 17-2 on second-chance points and 12-10 on fast-break points.

Rockets: Ryan Anderson sprained his left ankle in the second quarter after landing awkwardly on a defensive play. Anderson went to the locker room with a slight limp and did not return to the game. ... With SF Trevor Ariza out for the game for rest purposes, Luc Mbah a Moute started in his place and had nine points in 28 minutes.

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Wizards: Visit Cleveland on Thursday night.

Rockets: Host Portland on Thursday night.

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