Basketball / NBA

James Harden spoils Rui Hachimura's home debut, scoring 59 in dramatic duel

Kyodo, AP

James Harden spoiled rookie Rui Hachimura’s home debut by sinking a game-winning free throw with 2.4 seconds remaining to give the Houston Rockets a 159-158 victory over the Washington Wizards on Wednesday.

Bradley Beal scored a team-high 46 points and Hachimura, who added a career-high 23 points and five rebounds in almost 36 minutes, was one of seven Wizards to score in double digits at Capital One Arena.

It was the fourth time in as many NBA games that Hachimura scored in double digits.

The 21-year-old Toyama Prefecture native sank 3 of 3 from 3-point range after entering the home opener 0-for-8 from beyond the arc this season. Against the Rockets on Wednesday, he went 9-for-15 from the floor.

He made his first career 3-pointer in the second quarter and his second 3 in the third quarter gave the Wizards a 95-89 lead.

“I’m so glad to see so many Japanese fans,” the Gonzaga University product said in Japanese before the game while addressing the crowd.

But 2018 NBA MVP Harden was unstoppable in producing 59 points, three rebounds, nine assists and one steal for the Rockets. He set up the game-winning free throw by drawing a foul on a drive, hitting the first and missing the second from the line.

The Wizards (1-3) shot 62.6 percent from the field, hit 20 3s and racked up their highest single-game points tally since 1990.

After the game, Hachimura walked off the court while the crowd remained in their seats glued to the big screens watching the Washington Nationals play the Houston Astros in Game 7 of the World Series.

“It was a good game but a disappointing way to lose. I was surprised when I saw midway through the game that Harden had 50 points,” Hachimura said.

“I shot my 3s the way I always do.”

Harden was 18 of 32 from the field, 6 of 14 from 3-point range, and made 17 of 18 free throws. He also had nine assists in 37 minutes.

Houston newcomer Russell Westbrook had had just three points in the first three quarters, then scored 14 in the fourth quarter and finished with his second triple-double of the season. He had 12 assists and 10 rebounds.

Clint Capela added 21 points and 12 rebounds to help the Rockets improve to 3-1.

For Washington, Davis Bertans had 21 points.

Suns 121, Warriors 110

In San Francisco, Stephen Curry broke his left hand and became the latest injured Warriors player when he fell hard in the third quarter of another embarrassing defeat by Golden State to Phoenix.

The two-time MVP drove to his left defended by Kelly Oubre Jr. and with big man Aron Baynes standing solidly in the paint. Curry leapt with the ball then came down head first landing awkwardly on his hands to brace himself from the court, with Baynes crashing onto Curry’s left hand. Curry grimaced in pain grabbing at his fingers then walked to the locker room with 8:31 left in the third quarter.

Baynes had 24 points, 12 rebounds seven assists and three blocked shots, Devin Booker scored 31 points as the Suns jumped out to a huge lead they never relinquished. The Warriors have lost badly in their first two home games at sparkling new Chase Center.

Jazz 110, Clippers 96

In Salt Lake City, Mike Conley snapped an early season slump with 29 points and the hosts whipped Los Angeles with Kawhi Leonard sitting out.

Conley had 18 points in the third quarter as the Jazz scored 40 in the period and took a 90-71 lead. Utah (4-1) has won three in a row.

76ers 117, Timberwolves 95

In Philadelphia, Joel Embiid scored 19 points and got into a brawl with Karl-Anthony Towns that sent both players to the showers early, and the 76ers routed Minnesota to improve to 4-0.

Celtics 116, Bucks 105

In Boston, Kemba Walker had 21 of his 32 points in the second half and the Celtics rallied to beat Milwaukee,

Raptors 125, Pistons 113

In Toronto, Pascal Siakam scored 30 points, including 19 in the third quarter, and Fred VanVleet had 13 points and 11 assists in the defending champions’ victory over Detroit.

Trail Blazers 102, Thunder 99

In Oklahoma City, Damian Lillard had 23 points and 13 assists to help Portland hold off the Thunder.

Cavaliers 117, Bulls 111

In Cleveland, Kevin Love had 17 points and 20 rebounds, Tristan Thompson scored 23 points and the hosts beat Chicago.

Pacers 118, Nets 108

In New York, Domantas Sabonis scored 29 points, Jeremy Lamb added 25 and Indiana beat Brooklyn for its first victory in five games this season.

Magic 95, Knicks 83

In Orlando, Nikola Vucevic had 21 points and 14 rebounds and the hosts rallied to beat New York.

Hornets 118, Kings 111

In Sacramento, P.J. Washington scored 23 points and Charlotte overcame a 14-point deficit to beat the winless Kings.