On Wednesday night, Bradley Beal scored 27 points, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope put up 26 and Kyle Kuzma notched 24. Despite accounting for 70% of their team’s points, the Washington Wizards (19-19) fell, 114-111, versus the Houston Rockets (11-28), who snapped an eight-game losing streak.
The silver lining from Wednesday’s first six minutes was that the Wizards couldn’t have played much worse. Houston jumped out to a 9-0 lead, and the visitor’s largest advantage of the quarter was 12. At that point, Washington had committed five turnovers and had missed all five of its three-point attempts.
But with the home team floundering in the first quarter, their star player, Beal, led his team on a 6-0 run to force a Houston timeout. First, he threaded the needle of the Rockets’ defense and found rookie Corey Kispert. On the ensuing play, Beal hit Caldwell-Pope in transition, and the former Laker went to work on Christian Wood (22 points, 11 rebounds) for a two.
The highlight of the opening frame came from none other than Beal; the electric guard blew by his defender, stopped on a dime and knocked down a step-back three. Beal had 12 points, four rebounds and four assists on 2-for-4 shooting from three. He also did not go to the bench in the first.
At 10:06, Daniel Gafford did something he had yet to accomplish in 34 previous games: hit a jumper. He followed that up with a hefty denial of a dunk attempt.
It might have taken almost 20 minutes, but a Kispert three finally put the good guys ahead. However, the lead was short-lived as the Rockets punched in four points, punctuated by an emphatic Jalen Green (22 points, six rebounds) slam. The two sides traded blows to end the half, but the Wizards took a one-point advantage into the break.
It took just 70 seconds into the third for Beal to pick up his fourth personal foul. Shortly thereafter, Gafford also picked up foul number four. And before the quarter ended, Beal picked up his fifth, which prompted Washington’s bench to go to the monitor and consider a potential challenge. However, the replay revealed it had indeed been a foul, so Beal sat for the remainder of the period.
A 7-0 Houston run to start the fourth forced Wes Unseld Jr.’s hand, as the Wizards’ bench boss had no recourse but to put Beal back on the floor. For one of his first plays back on the court, Beal took a gutsy charge. But the roll of the dice later backfired as Beal fouled out — for the first time since Nov. 29, 2017 — with nine minutes remaining in the affair.
Surprisingly enough, without their top player, the Wizards went on a 10-2 run to get within three. As the clock ticked away, it seemed like every trip down the court led to a bucket as the two sides traded scores. But after tying things up late, the Wizards had their hearts broken for the second time in the past week; Kevin Porter Jr. dropped a shot from behind the arc with four tenths of a second remaining.
With Davis Bertans ruled out for the game with a left foot sprain, the Wizards had a difficult time shooting the three ball, going 10-for-39 on the night. In his first game back since returning from the Covid list, Raul Neto added 14 points off the bench.
For the visitors, Eric Gordan put up 19 points on 3-for-5 shooting from three, and Jae’Sean Tate contributed 13 points, 10 boards.