WASHINGTON (AP) — Dwight Howard played the role of NBA rain delay entertainer, playing one-on-one with some kids from the front row and playfully rejecting their shots. Maybe a baseball team should borrow him the next time some summer storms are in the forecast.
The pair of stoppages, due to a leak in the Verizon Center roof on a rainy day, would have been more than enough to make the game memorable, but why stop there? Let's have Howard and his heavily favored team play like gangbusters each time the water was mopped up. Then blow a 25-point lead. Then come from five down in the fourth quarter to win it.
Yep, that Houston Rockets' 114-107 win over the Washington Wizards on Saturday night was somethin' else altogether.
"The craziest game ever?" Howard said. "Yeah, I would say that."
Long after the delays of 35 and 22 minutes, James Harden tied the score with a driving layup with 2:33 to play, then gave the Rockets the lead again — this time for good — with a three-point play with 1:54 remaining. He finished with 25 points to lead the Rockets, who made only four field goals in the final period yet closed with a 17-5 run.
"It was a long game," Harden said. "A leakage in the court. I've never been a part of something like that before."
Neither had Howard, who ran the gamut of good and bad. He did the most to keep the fans engaged during the interruptions in play, signing an autograph or two and playing with the youngsters. The crowd reacted with exaggerated gasps when Howard would slap a shot in the seats — "They told me to protect the house," Howard joked — and cheered when one of the kids scored.
"I've got to work on my defense," Howard deadpanned, "if I want to get defensive player of the year."
Howard also dominated the game well into the second half before falling apart in the fourth quarter, committing four turnovers and missing both of his field goals and all four free throw attempts. He finished with 23 points.
"I did OK," Howard said. "I think in the second half I didn't finish like I needed to. I wasn't as aggressive as I was in the first half."
Terrence Jones added 19 points and 17 rebounds, and Jeremy Lin added 18 points and eight assists for the Rockets, who are 1-1 halfway through a four-game road trip.