The first half of this game was like many the Wizards have played this year. The two teams traded buckets, one taking a lead then relinquishing it to the other team. Andray Blatche came out hot in the first quarter and then disappeared until the end of the second quarter. Luis Scola, Orberto’s Argentinian teammate along with Blatche led all scorers with 12 points after two quarters. Mike Miller who has shown signs of life only to quickly turn them off had a strong half in the rebounding department but after putting up 5 shot attempts in the first quarter only managed 4 more the rest of the game.
Miller looked like he was finally about to assert himself offensively, as he took five shots and scored four points in the first period. But he only took four shots the rest of the game and finished with seven points. Miller has only scored in double figures two times since the all-star break and is averaging just 8.1 points his last 11 games. "Like I said at the beginning of the year, I'm going to pick my spots," Miller said.
After a fairly strong first quarter the Wizards struggled over the next two periods, falling to a deficit that reached 18 points in the third quarter. Sparked by a Shaun Livingston substitution, Washington was able to cut the lead to eight at the end of the third with a 13-1 run. In the fourth, the Wizards continued to fight but in the end could not fully claw their way back. Nick Young pitched in for 11 fourth quarter points but it was to no avail as the Wizards lost 96-88 to drop their fourth straight game.
Young had been in the midst of a major slump since the all-star break, but he surpassed his scoring total from the previous five games combined (15 points). Young made a fadeaway jumper to bring the Wizards to within 94-88 with 48.7 seconds remaining, but the Rockets were never in serious danger of losing the game. "I feel if I don't play well, I got to come out and play with everything," Young said. "Just being myself, trying to get comfortable out there, playing the game I played all my life and playing comfortably. I got my shot going a little earlier and told myself to keep going."
This time, Saunders kept Blatche on the bench when Washington made a late run to cut the lead to six in the final two minutes. "Dray struggled - a lot," Saunders said. "He wants to the carry the team, so he got into a situation where he tried to do almost a little bit too much. We took him out, we were down big, those guys came back. You reward the guys that got you there. ... His biggest thing is he's become a high-turnover player."
With the offense stuck, the Wizards turned to Shaun Livingston to run the point for most of the second half. Livingston finished with five assists in his twenty minutes and helped the Wizards outscore the Rockets 28-25 in the fourth quarter. Livingston also hit a 16-foot jump shot with 1:12 remaining to bring the Wizards to within six points at 92-86. "He got us into an offense," Saunders noted. "It was the best flow we had in the game during the end of the fourth quarter. It’s the first time he’s played extended minutes. We will see how he reacts tomorrow with his leg, and we will see what we do as far as Thursday."
If there’s one player on the rise, it’s Shaun Livingston. With the Wizards down, 56-42, early in the third, head coach Flip Saunders officially abandoned Randy Foye and Earl Boykins. Neither played again while Livingston orchestrated a so-called comeback, with 4 points, 5 assists in 20 minutes of playing time, his most with the Wizards and second-most this season.