NBA

James Harden Explodes As the Houston Rockets and Washington Wizards Set An Unbelievable NBA Record

While basketball purists might not love it, the NBA is currently an offensive league. That reality was on full display last night when the Washington Wizards hosted the Houston Rockets. The two teams combined for an unbelievable 317 total points, with the Rockets coming out on top 159-158.

While the game was as exciting as the scoreline would indicate, it was more than just a pure shootout. Some major NBA records were set in the nation’s capital last night.

The Wizards-Rockets offensive explosion

On paper, the Houston Rockets game the Washington Wizards seemed like an ordinary, early-season matchup. What we saw on Wednesday night, however, was nothing short of historic.

The game got off to a fast start, with the visitors leading 35-34 after one quarter; rather than dropping off, the scoring pace actually increased throughout the night. The Wizards led 77-76 at halftime and pulled ahead by six points after the third quarter, but James Harden would not be denied.

The Rockets guard took control of the game, dropping an eye-popping 59 points, 38 of which came in the second half. Bradley Beal put the Wizards ahead with eight seconds remaining, but Harden had other ideas. He knocked down the winning free throw with just over two seconds left, helping Houston escape Washington with a victory.

“I didn’t know we were going to have to score about 160 points to win but whatever it takes it took,” Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said. “A lot of great individual performances. They played unbelievable. They didn’t miss anything. We just let down a little bit and they made everything.”

Making NBA history

As you’d assume from the massive point total, several scoring records were set in Washington last night. The two teams’ combined 317 points were the most ever scored in a game that was decided by one point; the previous record of 311 was set by the Chicago Bulls and Portland Trailblazers in 1984.

The Wizards’ 158 points also ties the NBA record for the highest score by a losing team. They also shot .736 from the floor, which was the best field goal percentage by a losing team in the shot clock era.

For the Houston Rockets, Harden and Russell Westbrook, who finished the game with 17 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds, also made NBA history. They were the first teammates to point a 55-point effort and a triple-double since 1992. Those two performances, combined with Bradley Beals’ 46 point effort, made Wednesday only the second time in league history that one game has had a player score 55 points, another player score 45 points, and a third post a triple-double.

Both teams look to the bigger picture

While it’s easy to get wrapped up in last night’s historic scoring performance, but the Rockets and Wizards have to move on with their season.

For the former club, Westbrook and Harden are obviously the major positive. The pair either scored or assisted on 128 of the team’s 159 points; if they can complement each other like that and avoid butting heads, the Rockets will soar this season. If they add a little more defensive steel, they’ll be a strong contender in a Steph Curry-less West.

“The only way we’ll get to where we want to go is our defensive efforts, and it has to be consistent,” Harden said. “Right now we’re not consistent, and that’s why we go through tough times like that. That’s what the course of the year is for. We just try and build those habits and continue to keep building.”

Similarly, the Washington Wizards have to feel like their offense can keep them in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. While they won’t score 158 points every night, Bradley Beal can cover up a lot of flaws. “I hate moral victories,” he said. “But it’s always a good feeling knowing that when we lose, it’s always one or two things we can fix.”

It was only one game, but it’s hard for anyone to complain when both teams put up a historic amount of points.