The Houston Rockets won 25 of their first 29 games to notch the NBA’s best record, then quickly entered their worst tailspin in nearly five years.
Otto Porter Jr. scored 26 points, Bradley Beal and Kelly Oubre Jr. had 21 each, and the Washington Wizards beat the Rockets 121-103 Friday night for Houston’s fifth straight loss. It’s the longest skid for the Rockets since dropping seven straight from Jan. 9-19, 2013.
NBA scoring leader James Harden matched his season low with 20 points for the Rockets. Chris Paul returned after missing three games with a strained groin and had eight points and six assists in 26 minutes.
Houston had completed a 14-game winning streak before the alarming slide.
“We just haven’t had a rhythm in these last five games, quite frankly,” Harden said. “We had pretty good spurts, but just a consistent, four-quarter game, we haven’t had that. So hopefully we get back home and kind of buckle down a little bit.”
A night after blowing a 26-point lead in Boston, the Rockets held their last lead midway through the first quarter en route to their worst defeat of the season. Houston has by far the most 3-pointers in the league this season but was held to 29.2 percent (14 for 48) from deep.
Though Paul was back, the Rockets were missing center Clint Capela with an orbital fracture for the second straight game.
“Mentally we’re fine,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said. “We’ve got some tired legs and missing the big guy in the middle to give us a force to the rim. We’ve got all kinds of excuses, but that doesn’t work. It doesn’t matter. We lost. They won. They’re the better team tonight.”
Charlotte 111, at Golden State 100: Dwight Howard scored a season-high 29 points and the Hornets won just their third road game of the season. On the night before the Warriors expect Stephen Curry to return from his sprained right ankle, they lost for just the second time in their past 15 games. They are 9-2 without Curry.
Milwaukee 97, at Oklahoma City 95: Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 23 points, including the questionable winning basket with 1.3 seconds left. Replays clearly showed Antetokounmpo stepped out of bounds on his drive, but the officials refused to review the play after the buzzer sounded. “In any reviewable matter, there has to be a whistle called on the floor,” official Derek Stafford said. “There was no whistle blown for the play, so we couldn’t review it.”
Dallas 128, at New Orleans 120: Dennis Smith Jr. had his first career triple-double and the Mavericks made a franchise-record 22 three-pointers.
at Chicago 119, Indiana 107: Rookie Lauri Markkanen scored a career-high 32 points, Nikola Mirotic added 28 and the surging Bulls won their third consecutive game.
Brooklyn 111, at Miami 87: Joe Harris scored a career-high 21 points, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson added 18 and the Nets matched their biggest win ever over the Heat.
at Toronto 111, Atlanta 98: DeMar DeRozan scored 25 points, Jonas Valanciunas had 13 points and 11 rebounds and the Raptors won their 11th straight home game. Toronto was 11-3 in December, their best record ever in the month.
Phoenix 111, at Sacramento 101: Devin Booker shook off a rough night shooting and scored 12 of his 26 points over the final five minutes to lift the Suns. The Kings, who beat Cleveland on Wednesday, fell to 2-22 when trailing after three quarters.