LOS ANGELES (dpa) – Bradley Beal buried five triples en-route to a season-high 33 points Monday, and the Washington Wizards held off the
Houston Rockets 104-103 for their fourth straight win.
The Wizards opened up a four-game road trip, with their first victory at Houston in six visits to Toyota Center since December 29, 2008.
Paul Pierce netted 21 points while John Wall added 13 with 12 assists for Washington (22-8) off to its fastest start since the 1974-75 season en-route to the NBA Finals appearance.
League top scorer James Harden poured in 33 points but Houston (21-9) lost for the fourth time in the last six outings. Trevor Ariza and Corey Brewer chipped with 15 points apiece.
The contest was delayed for 34 minutes when referees stopped play 48 seconds into game after noticing a crooked Rockets rim needed to be replaced.
Washington built an 18 point cushion in the third quarter and carried a 78-67 advantage into the final 12 minutes. Houston rallied, however.
Behind eight points by Brewer, the Rockets knotted the contest at 84-apiece on a Harden jumper with 5 minutes seven seconds left.
The Wizards answered with a 9-0 run to regain the lead 93-84 at the 3:51 mark. After the Rockets pulled within 93-91, Pierce buried a triple to open a 98-91 lead with 1:12 remaining.
A three-pointer by Patrick Beverly drew the Rockets within 98-94. But Beal knocked down four free throws and Wall added two more in final 30 seconds – offsetting Harden’s nine quick points, including two triples – to earn the rare road win.
Chicago Bulls 92 – Indiana Pacers 90
Jimmy Butler scored 27 points, including the go-ahead triple with 67 seconds left, Spanish star Pau Gasol added 20, and the visiting Bulls (22-9) ran their winning streak to a season-high seven after escaping the Pacers.
Chris Copeland netted 13 of his 17 points in the final quarter for Indiana (11-21) which wiped out a 21-point deficit before falling short.
Orlando Magic 102 – Miami Heat 101
Nikola Vucevic scored 26 points, Victor Oladipo added 22, including the tie-breaking free throw with six seconds left, and the visiting Magic (13-21) snapped a 10-game slide against the Heat.
Dwyane Wade topped Miami (14-18) with 25 points but missed a potential game-winning jumper at the buzzer.
LA Clippers 101 – Utah Jazz 97
Blake Griffin scored 24 points, Chris Paul added 20 and DeAndre Jordan grabbed 19 rebounds, as the Clippers (21-11) beat the visiting Jazz for the 12th straight time.
Gordon Hayward had 22 points for Utah (10-21) which had won four of its last five.
In other games: the visiting Milwaukee Bucks dominated the overtime to beat the Charlotte Hornets 104-94 and the Brooklyn Nets slipped by the visiting Sacramento Kings 101-97.