It was quite the night at the Verizon Center but the Wizards dropped a heartbreaker by the score of 114-107. In a game that included almost an hour of delays through two separate stoppages due to a leaky roof, the Wizards came back from a 25 point deficit to take the lead late in the fourth quarter. The comeback was inspiring, but ultimately the Wizards couldn’t close on their home court. The Wizards opened the fourth quarter on a 21-3 run and led by as many as five before the Rockets fought back. John Wall and Trevor Ariza both posted double-doubles with 23 points and 10 assists and 22 points and 14 rebounds respectively. Perhaps the most notable performance of the evening belonged to Kevin Seraphin though, who scored 18 points to provide the spark the Wizards needed during their comeback. The Rockets had 5 different players finish in double figures in the victory. James Harden scored 25 points, grabbed 8 rebounds, and had 5 assists, while Dwight Howard scored 23 points and grabbed 7 rebounds. Terrence Jones dominated on the glass, finishing with 17 points and 16 rebounds. - Brad Bobrow
Normally, there's nothing better than returning home after a week on the road, but the way the Wizards have been rolling on the road it doesn't quite have that same feel. Even with last night's rout in Indianapolis, the Wizards have still won six of eight on the road, while dropping six of seven here at Verizon Center.
But, if the Wizards want to be the playoff team that they have set out to be, they'll need to start protecting their home court, and why not let that begin tonight with the Houston Rockets in town.
The big splash this past off-season came from Houston, as they won the Dwight Howard lottery. He's still considered one of the game's elite big men and even after various injuries, he is still a monster down low. He's third in the NBA in rebounding at 12.9 per game to go along with his 17.8 points. The good news for the Wizards is the man who will be defending him tonight spent his first 3.5 years in the league defending him every day in practice. Marcin Gortat backed up Howard in Orlando before the two moved on to establish careers elsewhere. After last night's game, Gortat spoke about their relationship and the task of defending the big man.
After dealing with Roy Hibbert last night, this may be an even tougher and more physical battle for Gortat tonight. But, he's certainly ready for the challenge.
The Rockets love to put four shooters on the floor with Howard to spread the defense out and allow them to get off 3-pointers at a high rate. In fact, they shoot more 3's than any other team in the NBA, averaging 26.3 per game. Despite shooting so many 3's, they are only shooting 34.1 % from downtown, which is 24h in the league. So while the Wizards need to be aware that they will shoot from outside, it's not something they necessarily want to eliminate.
Before the game tonight, Randy Wittman talked about the Rockets 3-point shooting and how difficult it is to defend a great player like James Harden.
The Rockets can certainly light it up on the offensive end and rank in the top five in points per game, but they also give up almost 102 points a night, which is 23rd in the NBA. While the Wizards still want to run, they are a defensive minded team that will want this game played in the 90's.
Last night, the Wizards were held to a season-low 66 points on 34% shooting and finished with 13 assists. I think it's safe to assume they'll improve upon those numbers tonight, but in order to take down the Rockets they'll need to move the ball for the entire 48 minutes. The third quarters killed the Wizards in their last two home games as they were outscored 70-31 in losses to the Raptors and Warriors.
We're looking forward to a high energy game tonight as the Wiz finish this four games in five nights stretch here at Verizon Center.
The Chat gets going at 7pm. We'll see you in there.