HOUSTON – John Wall had 22 points and nine assists in his first game since 2018. James Harden had a big finish to score 33 points and the Houston Rockets beat the Sacramento Kings 122-119 on Thursday night.
Late in the fourth, Wall found James Harden in transition for a deep 3-pointer that gave Houston a one-point lead. The two celebrated with a high-five at midcourt.
Sacramento cut Houston’s lead to 118-117 with 22.4 seconds remaining on Tyrese Haliburton’s 3-pointer, but Harden answered with two free throws. Sacramento missed two close 3s in the final seconds and Houston held on.
Harden also had eight assists and six rebounds in the first of a two-game set with the Kings. They will meet again Sunday in Houston.
The Rockets were playing their first game with Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Gordon, who missed the first two games due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols. Houston’s scheduled opener on Dec. 23 against Oklahoma City after COVID-19 quarantine protocols depleted the roster below the eight players required by the NBA to play a game.
Wall, acquired from Washington for Russell Westbrook, scored his first points since Dec. 26, 2018, on a thunderous left-handed dunk in transition. Wall looked explosive on several drives to the basket and dunks in his first game back from a ruptured Achilles tendon.
Cousins came off the bench and quickly drained a 3-pointer for his first basket since June 13, 2019. In 14 minutes, Cousins had eight points and three assists in his Rockets debut.
Christian Wood had 21 points and 12 rebounds, and Gordon added 17 points.
Harrison Barnes led the Kings with 24 points, De’Aaron Fox and Richaun Holmes each had 22, and Buddy Hield added 19.
Kings: SG DaQuan Jeffries suffered a Grade 3 left ankle sprain during 4-on-4 play Tuesday and will miss at least six weeks, the Kings said Wednesday. . PF Jabari Parker (back stiffness) remained sidelined and has yet to make his season debut.
Rockets: Houston was hosting its first regular- season home game since March 10, before COVID-19 derailed last season. There were masked fans in attendance, but far below 25% capacity and only about a dozen fans sitting courtside. ... KJ Martin and Ben McLemore remain away from the team and are self-isolating per COVID-19 protocols.