The Wizards’ big three all turned in big shooting nights while holding Chris Paul and James Harden to a combined 28 points as Washington crushed Houston 121-103 on Friday night.
Two nights after talk about the team gunning for stats instead of playing sound basketball, the Wizards were the model of efficiency in this game. Otto Porter led the way with 26 points on 16 shots as well as a game-high seven assists. Bradley Beal snapped out of his funk with 21 points on 17 shots and John Wall added 17 points on 10 shots. As a team, the Wizards shot 53.4 percent from the field and went 18-of-36 on threes.
Washington also turned in a stellar performance on the defensive end against the top-ranked offense in the NBA. James Harden was held to 20 points, 4 assists, and 5 turnovers. Chris Paul finished with 8 points on 11 shots and just 6 assists in his first game back from a calf injury. The Wizards, who came into Friday’s game with the best three-point defense in the league, held the Rockets to just 14-of-48 shooting on threes.
For better or worse, the Wizards continue to show they can hang with anyone. Washington has five wins over the eight teams that comprise the top four in each conference, and very well could have had six if Bradley Beal hadn’t gotten ejected in their game against the Warriors.
Now, they just need to find a way to bring more than a modicum of that intensity in games against lesser teams. The next few games should be an excellent test, as six of their next seven games are against teams with losing records.
Washington’s three-point defense might just be good
Even though the Wizards’ defense has shown statistical improvement this season, there have been plenty of questions about whether or not it can hold up against the best offenses in the league. Their performance against the Rockets was a positive sign.
As noted earlier, the Wizards held the Rockets to 14-of-48 shooting, which includes Briante Weber and Bobby Brown combining to shoot 5-of-7 in garbage time. Once you take out the meaningless shots, Washington held Houston to 9-of-39 from deep, which would equal their worst shooting performance of the season.
Unlike other games this season, the Wizards didn’t sacrifice their interior defense to sell out on contesting outside shots. They were solid on switches, and most importantly, didn’t let the Rockets pick up easy points at the foul line. Houston only attempted 16 free throws, their second-lowest total of the season, and James Harden, who’s averaging 10.3 free throws per game, only took six.
To be fair, the Rockets were missing some players, including Clint Capela, Luc Mbah A Moute, Nene, and Troy Williams, but that hasn’t stopped them from being prolific in other games. For better or worse, the Wizards’ defense continues to come up big in big games, and this game was no exception.
Satoransky caught a body
If you’ve followed the Wizards for any amount of time, you’re probably aware Tomas Satoransky has great leaping skills. He just doesn’t get to show it much in games because he doesn’t have the burst to blow by people and get to the rim very often. However, tonight he got a clear runway and made Zhou Qi regret trying to get in his way.
- Washington held Houston to 29.1 percent on threes in this game. It’s only the fifth game this season where the Rockets have shot under 30 percent from deep.
- John Wall wore a ‘floral’ edition of his John Wall 1’s during the game and was spotted after the game with several pairs of Adidas in his locker. It will be interesting to see if a John Wall/Adidas reunion is in the works.
- Bradley Beal flourished in this environment. The Rockets didn’t have much to offer in terms of rim protection, which made it easy for him to get where he wanted on the floor and muscle through who was guarding him to get to the rim. Hopefully his strong night will help him snap out of his recent slump.
- Mike Scott missed the game due the birth of his daughter.
- Markieff Morris, everyone.
Can't stop watching Markieff Morris get more and more excited about playing bench defense on Chris Paul until Tim Frazier tells him to take it down a notch pic.twitter.com/sCu2vU4i4B— Mike Prada (@MikePradaSBN) December 30, 2017
Next up: The Wizards host the Bulls on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET.