Tim MacMahonESPN Staff WriterClose
- Joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009
- Covers the Dallas Cowboys and Dallas Mavericks
- Appears regularly on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM
HOUSTON — With the 3-point record in reach, the Rockets‘ starters shouted, “Shoot it! Shoot it!” from the bench every time one of their teammates touched the ball with a reasonable, long-range look at the basket late in Wednesday’s 136-118 win over the Washington Wizards.
As the Toyota Center crowd chanted, “Threeeeeeee!” Rockets reserve guard Michael Carter-Williams swished Houston’s record-breaking 26th 3-pointer of the night from near the top of the arc with 31.1 seconds remaining in the game. The Rockets had missed their previous four 3-point attempts as Houston hunted a record in garbage time of its season-best fifth consecutive win.
“We knew that if we didn’t at least attempt it, we would have heard it in the locker room,” said Carter-Williams, a career 25.4 percent 3-point shooter who is 7-of-19 from beyond the arc this season.
Rockets star James Harden offered clarification.
“Not even us — the crowd; the crowd would have attacked them,” said Harden, who scored a game-high 35 points, hitting 6 of 11 3-point attempts.
The Rockets, who were 26-of-55 from 3-point range, broke the NBA record for treys made that was set when the Cleveland Cavaliers hit 25-of-46 in a March 3, 2017, win over the Atlanta Hawks. The Rockets were one of the teams that had shared the 3s record before it was broken by the Cavaliers, having shot 24-of-61 in a Dec. 16, 2016, victory over the New Orleans Pelicans; Houston’s 61 attempts that night still stands as a record.
The Rockets, who have broken the team’s season record for 3s made in both seasons since coach Mike D’Antoni was hired, started the night off hot against the struggling Wizards and never cooled off.
“They shot the s— out of it,” Wizards guard Bradley Beal said.
Newly acquired Wizards forward Trevor Ariza offered his take.
“It was definitely on us giving them a lot of open looks,” said Ariza, who faced his former team for the first time since leaving Houston in free agency over the offseason. “We have to do a better job defensively and give multiple efforts. We could’ve given a better effort.”
Harden, the reigning NBA MVP, continued his torrid stretch. He is averaging 38.6 points and 7.8 assists during Houston’s five-game winning streak. He got the Rockets rolling Wednesday by going 3-of-3 from 3-point range in the first quarter.
Chris Paul, who hadn’t been shooting the ball well recently, busted out of his slump by hitting 5 of 9 3-point attempts while scoring 21 points.
Harden and Paul also combined for 17 assists, including eight that resulted in 3s. Only two of their combined 11 made 3s were assisted, as the Rockets guards consistently created their own shots off the dribble, with Harden swishing five step-back jumpers.
“We’ve got two of the best point guards ever to play the game,” D’Antoni said. “I wish I could say that I’m over there doing something that I’m not. We’re just riding those two guys, and they just know how to play. And I really think it’s energy. The ball finds energy, and positive things happen.”
Paul and Harden checked out together with 4:15 remaining in the contest and the Rockets leading by 21 points. Houston had made half of its 48 3-point attempts at that point.
Reserve forward Gary Clark tied the NBA team record by making a trey with 2:42 remaining. Carter-Williams and reserve forward Danuel House Jr. each missed a couple of 3 attempts when going for the record, before Carter-Williams hit the final 3 of the night.
“Man, it was fun,” Paul said. “It wasn’t no disrespect at all to Washington or whatnot. It’s one of those things you don’t get to do very often. To do it with the team, unless it gets broken tomorrow, it’s something that we’ll remember.”
“It’s pretty cool to be a part of it,” he said. “You’re in the books.”