(AP) – Mired in a long losing streak, the Houston Rockets twice put the ball in John Wall’s hands in the waning moments.
No luck, once again.
The Rockets lost their team-record 20th straight game, falling to the Oklahoma City Thunder 114-112 Sunday when Wall missed two shots in the final 10 seconds.
“We have no choice but to pick up and try hard and learn and grow, and it starts with me,” Houston coach Stephen Silas said.
The Rockets’ skid is tied for the ninth-worst in NBA history and the longest since Philadelphia’s record-setting 28-game losing streak across the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons.
Houston took a 110-109 lead with less than three minutes remaining. After the Rockets went ahead, Lu Dort blocked Wall’s layup from behind to protect a 113-112 edge.
“That was a heck of a play, obviously, and a great second effort,” Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said. “He was out of the play a little bit and made a great comeback. I thought he was great, offensively, as well. I thought he really attacked.”
Wall then missed a deep 3-pointer at the buzzer.
“It worked out that way -- it was supposed to end up in a pick-and-roll,” Silas said. “It didn’t. This one hurts.”
Dort scored 23 points and Isaiah Roby had 18 for the Thunder, who led by as many as 13 points. Svi Mykhailiuk and Justin Jackson each had 15 points off the bench.
“I’ve been trying to work on making good decisions at the end of games, and I thought I did good in the end today,” Dort said. “We just had to step up and make some big plays at the end. We wanted to win, and that’s what we did.”
Christian Wood had 27 points, eight rebounds and two blocks for Houston, Wall had 24 points and seven assists, and Victor Oladipo had 23 points.
Oklahoma City led 31-22 at the end of a rough first quarter where the teams combined to make just 3 of 17 from 3-point range. They shot a sizzling 14 of 21 on 3s in the second quarter, however, and Oklahoma City led 66-62 at halftime.
Wall, Wood and Oladipo combined for 40 first-half points. It was just the fifth time all season all three players have played in the same game.
The Rockets hit a franchise-record 28 3s in a win against the Thunder on Feb. 1, just three days before their last win. On Sunday, the Rockets were just 14 of 38 on 3s.
Oklahoma City outrebounded Houston 52-38, led by Moses Brown’s 14 boards. Brown added 13 points.
Sunday’s game was originally supposed to be the season opener on Dec. 23, but it was postponed for COVID-19 protocols.
HE SAID IT
“That was a heroic play. It was so clutch. I told Lu after the game, ‘You’re a monster, Lu.’” -- Brown on Dort’s block
Thunder: SG Shai Gilgeous-Alexander missed the game with right shoulder soreness. C Al Horford (rest), PF Darius Bazley (left shoulder contusion), PG George Hill (right thumb procedure) and SF Josh Hall (left knee soreness) were also unavailable.
Rockets: PG D.J. Augustin was out with a stomach illness. . PG Kevin Porter Jr., who was originally ruled out with right quad soreness, was upgraded to be available shortly before tipoff. He had four points in 20 minutes off the bench. . PF D.J. Wilson -- acquired with Augustin in last week’s trade with Milwaukee involving P.J. Tucker -- had his first points as a Rocket, scoring eight in 10 minutes.
With 4.9 seconds remaining, Houston inbounded the ball near their basket, with Jae’Sean Tate passing to Wall. Guarded by Dort, Wall took one dribble and attempted a deep 3-pointer from 29 feet that clanked wide left off of the side of the rim and backboard. Roby secured the rebound and the win for the Thunder. Wall was 1-for-7 from 3 in the game.
Houston’s bench was outscored 39-12 in the game. In their previous loss to Detroit on Friday, Houston’s bench was outscored 40-20. Wilson led bench scoring for Houston with just 8 points. Wilson and Kevin Porter Jr. were the only reserves to score in the game.
Thunder: Play their fourth straight road game Monday night in Minnesota.
Rockets: Host Toronto on Monday night.
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