April 3, 2018 | Toyota Center | Houston, TX
It would have been so Washington Wizards to beat the Houston Rockets, the best team in the NBA, two days after losing to the tanking Chicago Bulls given their roller coaster of the season. That was not the case as the Wizards were clearly the inferior team and a slow start doomed them. Despite the underwhelming play that has caused Washington to lose 11 of their last 16 games, there may be a subtle silver lining to Tuesday’s loss.
(Photo: Bill Baptist via Getty Images)
No Stopping Houston’s Powerhouse Offense
To beat the Rockets at home, a team must come in with a balanced game plan that includes defense and offense that is comparable. Washington had neither. They allowed the Rockets to score 71 points at the half and managed to only have 49 points by that point.
The front-runner for MVP, James Harden, shot 12-for-18 from the field and 5-for-8 from behind the arc to finish with 38 points including nine from the free throw line. To go along with multiple nasty step backs, Harden nearly had a triple-double as he had 10 rebounds and nine assists.
Harden had help from his teammates on the offensive end. The big man, Clint Capela, added 21 points on 9-for-10 shooting in 26 minutes. The Wizards struggled to defend the paint as the Rockets outscored them in that category 48-28. The Rockets never trailed in this game and blast past the Wizards, 120-104.
John Wall Knocking Off Rust
Wall returned to the Wizards’ lineup after sitting out against the Bulls on Sunday. Wall could not find the bottom of the basket as he shot atrociously from the field. In 33 minutes of playing time, the All-Star guard finished the night with nine points on 3-for-10 shooting from the field. Despite his shots not falling, Wall managed to get his teammates going by dishing out 10 assists. It is worth mentioning of the Wizards’ 17 turnovers, which led to 21 Houston points, Wall committed eight of them, tying his season-worst.
Kelly Oubre’s Struggles Continue
It is expected that Wall will have some bad games leading into the playoffs since he missed over two months. However, Kelly Oubre’s poor three-point shooting continued in Houston. Oubre is now 2-for-31 over the last six games. Additionally, to the horrid shooting from behind the arc, Oubre was just 2-for-11 from the field overall. On the positive side, he finished the night with 11 points and got to the free-throw line 10 times, but only converted on six of them.
Bradley Beal Gave It His All
During despair, there is always a bright spot. For the Wizards, that was their All-Star shooting guard. He tallied 27 points in 29 minutes against the Rockets, but it was not enough. Beal was 10-for-15 from the field including 3-for-5 from deep to go along with four rebounds and three assists, but foul trouble limited his playing time. He had help from Markieff Morris who chimed in 14 points on 5-for-8 shooting and Otto Porter Jr. who had 12 points on 4-for-7 shooting. Overall, the Wizards shot 52.8 percent from the field, but the lack of defense and not being able to stop Harden and Capela was the ultimate demise of Washington.
Wizards Tumble In Standings
With the Miami Heat coming back to defeat the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday, the Wizards fell to 7th place in the Eastern Conference. As of right now, the Wizards would play the Celtics in the post-season. At this point, it does not matter who is Washington’s opponent. The Wizards’ self-inflecting mistakes cannot carry over into the playoffs. If so, they will have an early exit. Several things need to happen for them to be competitive. Wall must knock off the rust sooner than later and Oubre must find his three-point shot because his shooting threat and defense is vital for the Wizards’ success. Most importantly, this team must start playing at an elite level every night.
Next Game: Washington will travel to The Land to play against the Cleveland Cavaliers. This will be a nationally televised game on TNT at 8 p.m. With four more games left in the season, this game will have a playoff feel to it. Maybe the Wizards will get it together and make a statement. Or, maybe their plan is to avoid the Cavs in the first-round at all cost.