An absolutely incredible game had a heartbreaking collusion. Trevor Ariza set a new Wizards' franchise record with 10 made threes and scored 32 points but the Wizards fell 113-112 in Houston. The Wizards came back from down by as many as 19 in the second half and took a two point lead off of two John Wall free throws with four seconds to go in the game. On the ensuing inbounds play, Trevor Ariza fouled Harden before the ball was thrown in which gave Harden one free throw and the Rockets the ball back. This time the Rockets did get the ball in to Harden and he drove to the bucket and scored with .7 seconds to go. Kevin Seraphin's long jumper at the buzzer hit the rim and the Rockets escaped with the win.
With 3:31 to go in the third quarter, the Rockets had broken the game open to lead by 19. Five Ariza made threes later led to a 20-4 run for the Wizards and they only trailed by three going into the fourth. The final frame was an incredibly exciting one. The Rockets led almost the whole way, with the Wizards getting the lead for the first time with 2:20 to go. The Rockets would not get the lead back until the bucket by Harden in the game's final second.
The story in this game was the free throw discrepancy as the Rockets got to the free throw line 31 more times than the Wizards. The Rockets shot 47 free throws, making 35, while the Wizards were just 8/16. The Rockets also dominated the glass, outrebounding the Wizards 51-35. Both teams were effective from long distance, with the Wizards hitting 16/32 and the Rockets 10/22. Despite the free throw discrepancy, the wizards stayed in the game through turnovers. The Wizards' committed just nine while the Rockets committed 24, which the Wizards scored 24 points off of.
Trevor Ariza shined for the Wizards, especially in the third quarter. Ariza had ten threes in the game for a new franchise record, with seven of them coming in the third quarter. He hit five of them in a 2:18 stretch during the Wizards' third quarter comeback. He finished with 32 points, just one off of his career-high. He also pulled down 11 boards. John Wall had an assist to turnover ratio of 14-0 and added 19 points. Nene and Beal were the other Wizards to finish in double figures, with Nene scoring 21 and Beal 20. For the Rockets, James Harden led all scorers with 35 points, shooting 8/14 from the field and 16/16 from the free throw line. Dwight Howard and Chandler Parsons both had double-doubles, with Howard going for 24 points and 16 boards, and Parsons 18 and 12. - Jacob Raim
The Rockets shot 56.8% from the field, outrebounded the Wizards 31-15, hit 14 more free throws...and only lead at the half by nine. The Rockets dominated most facets of the half but the Wizards fought hard to stay in the game, primarily by forcing 12 Rockets turnovers. The Rockets took a 12 point lead early but the Wizards fought back, a similar storyline to Tuesday night in Memphis. The Wizards actually came all the way back to take the lead but a late second quarter run by Houston gave them their nine point lead. Stopping James Harden will be crucial in the second half as he has scored a game-high 23 points in the first half on 6/10 shooting and 9/9 from the free throw line. Dwight Howard also starred for the Rockets, scoring 15 points and grabbing eight boards. For the Wizards, Nene, Wall and Ariza all got into double figures. - Jacob Raim
We've made it to the end of the "first half" of the season. While tonight will be game #52 of an 82 game season, the All-Star break signifies the middle of the year and after tonight, the players will be off until Monday.
But, before we can turn the attention to John Wall and Bradley Beal's All-Star festivities, we have business to take care of tonight in Houston. And this one won't be easy.
This has all the makings of a "danger game" for the Wizards. Last game before the break, second night of a back-to-back, on the road against the hottest team in the west, etc.... So, it will be vital to put all of that to the side, show some mental toughness, and come out and battle tonight for 48 minutes.
For the Rockets, they will be without point guard Eric Beverley, who is out with an abdominal strain. That means Jeremy Lin will move back into the starting role, who has had some good battles with Wall in the past.
For the Wizards, Martell Webster tweaked his ankle last night, but he did warm up before the game and will try to give it a go tonight.
Last night in Memphis, it took until the second half for the Wizards to find their rhythm and Randy Wittman talked about the need to play with high intensity for the full 48:
Bradley Beal put in a career-high 37 points, but it was not enough as the Wizards came up just short in a 92-89 loss to the Grizzlies.
Don't expect another defensive display like last night from Houston. They are all about tempo and scoring the basketball. They are third in the NBA in points per game (105.3) and lead the league in three-point attempts, averaging 25.9 per contest.
Randy Wittman talked about the challenge of facing the Rockets before tonight's game:
The last time these two teams met, they played one of the strangest games you'll ever see, which included two leak delays and the Wizards overcoming a 25 point deficit. The great comeback was overshadowed by the 17-5 Rockets' run to end the game as Houston went on to win 114-107.
The Wizards will seek revenge against a Houston team that has won six in a row and has only lost three games since the last #WizRockets game on January 11th.
The action kicks off at 8pm and we'll be live chatting from Houston.