James Harden toyed with Wizards, scoring 38 points on 12-of-18 shooting as the Rockets blew out the Wizards, 120-104 on Tuesday night. Clint Capela added 21 points on 9-of-10 shooting and Gerald Green added 16 off the bench as the Rockets buried the Wizards before they even had a chance in this one.
Harden got anywhere he wanted on the floor. Wide open lobs in the pick-and-roll game? Yup. Pulling up for three in transition? You got it. That deadly step-back? Oh yeah. Washington had no answer. He sliced through their defense for easy layups and did his dance against the Wizards’ big men when they switched on him at the top of the key.
This was a methodical beat down from start to finish by Harden and the best team in the NBA. No need for me to belabor the finer details of the plot.
The inevitable ‘John Wall struggles in his return’ comes in his second game back
Let’s not kid ourselves, we knew John Wall wasn’t going to be fully 100 percent until he got a couple of games under his belt and tonight was one of those speed bumps in the road to recovery.
He struggled with his shot as he was just 3-of-10 from the field and 1-of-3 from 3-point range for nine points this evening. His shot looked flat all evening and as a result, he came up short on a lot of his jumpers. The same thing happened when Wall got to the free-throw line. He didn’t get any lift when he got to the charity stripe and connected on just two of his four free throws (Well technically two-of-five, but one of his misses was wiped off due to a lane violation. Who’s counting?)
Aside from his jumper, Wall committed way too many turnovers, coughing the ball up eight times. There were many instances where he would drive into a crowd, anticipate a pass that wasn’t there, or try so hard to push the ball that he’d stumble over his own feet.
Wall’s struggles were an understandable part of the recovery process. The problem is, Washington is running out of time to get him up to speed. There are only four games left on the docket, which come on two sets of back-to-backs.
Defending the paint remains a problem
Washington cleaned up their act a bit over the last few games but tonight, their interior defense struggled once again.
Washington was switching 1-5 early on and the Rockets made the Wizards pay. Harden or Paul would drive by their man and get an easy layup at the rim or kick it out for three. If Gortat or Morris tried the trap Harden at the top of the key, he made them pay by lobbing the ball to Capela for three alley-oops alone in the first quarter.
When the Houston reserves came in, it was more of the same as they crashed the glass for easy putbacks at the rim. Houston scored 18 of their 35 first quarter points in the key and outscored Washington 18-0 in the paint for the quarter. Don’t just point the finger at the big men; this was a collective team lapse.
Houston ended the game outscoring Washington 48 to 28 in the painted area.
- Washington’s loss, coupled with Miami’s win over the Hawks and Milwaukee’s win over Boston, creates a three-way tie for sixth in the Eastern Conference standings, as well as a tie atop the Southeast division between the Wizards and Heat. Miami currently holds the tiebreaker over Washington and the Wizards currently hold the tiebreaker over the Bucks.
- Houston outrebounded Washington 46-36 and outscored Washington 17-2 on second-chance points.
- The Wizards shot 52.8 percent from the field! They lost by 16.
Next up: The Wizards are off to Cleveland to face the Cavaliers at 8 p.m. on Thursday