By KRISTIE RIEKEN
AP Sports Writer
HOUSTON (AP) — Kyle Kuzma scored 20 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter to help the Washington Wizards rally for a 108-103 victory over the Houston Rockets Wednesday night.
The Wizards trailed by as many 19 points and were down by 10 to open the fourth quarter before Kuzma took over.
The Wizards scored the first eight points of the fourth to start a 15-2 run that gave them an 86-83 lead with about eight minutes left. The Wizards made five free throws in that span and Kuzma had 10 points with two 3-pointers.
Tari Eason made a layup for Houston after that before Kuzma made two more 3-pointers in less than a minute to power an 8-0 run that pushed Washington’s lead to 94-85.
“We’ve seen it from him,” Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. “Once he gets going he’s shooting into a big bucket. We needed it. We trust to put the ball in his hands in these moments and he’s come up big for us.”
Houston’s Alperen Sengun had 21 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists for his second career triple-double. Jalen Green had 19 points on 6-of-19 shooting after scoring a career-high 42 points Tuesday night against Minnesota in a win that snapped a 13-game skid.
“Late third quarter we got away from the things that are about winning, about building winning habits, about taking the right shot, about making the right path, and we’ve got to be better,” coach Stephen Silas said. “Young and inexperienced and all that, we’ve got to do better.”
Four points by the Rockets got them within four with less than 30 seconds to go before Bradley Beal made two free throws to make it 107-101. A dunk by Kenyon Martin Jr. cut the lead to four again with seven seconds to go but Kuzma made 1 of 2 free throws to seal the victory.
After the poor start to the fourth quarter, Houston got going, using an 7-2 run, with two dunks from Martin, to cut the lead to 96-92 with 4 1/2 minutes left.
But the Wizards scored the next five points to make it 100-92 with three minutes to go.
Eric Gordon made a basket for Houston after that but another 3 by Kuzma extended Washington’s lead to 105-97 with less than a minute to go.
Unseld was disappointed in how his team started the game but impressed with the way his guys bounced back.
“Not the prettiest game,” he said. “Didn’t have the energy in that first half… but to their credit they responded after halftime. In that fourth quarter we really ramped it up.”
The Rockets were up by 15 at halftime and had a 13-point lead with about eight minutes left in the third. The Wizards then used a 10-2 spurt to cut the lead to 66-61 with about 6 1/2 minutes left in the quarter. Corey Kispert had five points during that stretch and Kuzma capped it with a 3-point play.
Houston scored the next six points, with four from Jae’Sean Tate, to extend the lead to 72-61 with less than four minutes to go in the quarter.
Newcomer Kendrick Nunn made a 3-pointer for Washington after that, and Green added four points for the Rockets before another 3 by Nunn cut Houston’s lead to 76-67.
The Rockets added a basket before a 4-0 run by the Wizards, highlighted by a dunk from Kuzma cut the deficit to 78-71.
But Houston scored the last three points of the quarter to take an 81-71 lead into the fourth.
Wizards: Kristaps Porzingis missed a second straight game with an ankle injury. … Monte Morris sat out with a sore right hamstring. …
Rockets: Kevin Porter Jr. missed a seventh consecutive game with a bruised left foot. … Garrison Mathews received a flagrant foul early in the third quarter for a hit on Daniel Gafford, that sent him tumbling to the court. … Beal had 17 points.
Nunn made his Washington debut after being part of the trade from the Lakers for Rui Hachimura Tuesday. He had 12 points.
Unseld liked what he saw from his new player.
“I thought he was good,” Unseld said. “It’s tough because we haven’t had a full practice. But he just played to his strengths. He’s a good player. He’s got the ability to fill it up.”
Wizards: At New Orleans on Saturday night.
Rockets: Host Cleveland on Thursday night.
AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
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