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Takeaways from Wizards' blown lead in road loss to Rockets

Takeaways from Wizards' blown lead in road loss to Rockets

The goal to keep James Harden in check worked almost to perfection for the Wizards even though he still had his third consecutive triple-double, but they had no answer for Eric Gordon as the Houston Rockets erased a 15-point deficit to win 101-91 on Monday at Toyota Center.

The Rockets (27-9) win the season series 2-0 and the Wizards (16-17) open a two-game road trip with a hard-fought loss that easily could’ve been a victory.

Bradley Beal (27 points) led Washington followed by John Wall (18 points, 12 assists, five rebounds), Markieff Morris (12 points, eight rebounds, three assists) and Marcin Gortat (13 points, 14 rebounds). Otto Porter (eight points) only shot 4-for-12 from the field.

Harden (23 points, 10 assists, 10 rebounds) wasn’t effective early but Eric Gordon (31 points) set his season-high to lead the Rockets shooting 12-for-39 from three-point range. Montrezl Harrell (14 points, nine rebounds) and Trevor Ariza (10 points) also chipped in.

The Wizards play Tuesday at the Dallas Mavericks.

--Beal played after missing the last game with a right ankle sprain and did his best to keep the Wizards alive late. The only player to make a three for the Wizards other than Beal was Marcus Thornton (seven points). They were 6-for-26 overall.

--Morris went mostly uncovered and couldn’t make them. Neither could Porter or Gortat. The Rockets sometimes botched coverages on threes and were willing to sacrifice two-pointers by having Anderson defend a 6-11 center in the low post for long stretches. Gortat had a good boxscore game, but he could've/should've done more damage. Porter scored 12 points fewer than he did in the first meeting, a 114-106 loss on Nov. 7, when he was defended a lot by Harden. 

--Gordon outscored the Wizards’ bench alone which had just 13 points. Kelly Oubre’s main responsibility, however, was guarding Harden and not scoring. He had seven rebounds and two steals, one of which led to Morris getting out in transition for a dunk to tie the score at 82 in the fourth. 

--The lead got away from the Wizards to start the third with four turnovers by 8:35. Those empty possessions plus Gordon's threes put the Rockets back in it (he shot 6-for-12 for the game). It wasn’t until late in the third that Harden made his first three, in transition off a make by Washington, to trim the deficit to 66-65. The Rockets shot 7-for-10 from three in the third which proved to be the turning point.

--Nene (nine points) was key to the comeback. The Rockets weren’t as effective with the pick-and-roll with Harden and Anderson. Nene entered, converted and covered the rim. Out of timeout, Nene’s dunk off a feed from Harden gave Houston its first lead 67-66. Nene blocked Porter on a drive to deny a dunk, popped for a mid-range jumper and then had a layup for a 71-66 lead in a 9-0 run. The Rockets led 78-70 entering the fourth.

--Harden only had six points in the first half when he shot 2-for-11 and their switches had a lot to do with it. Beal and Morris were especially connected and didn’t put him on the foul line. Harden only attempted two fouls shots in the first 24 minutes. Beal was able to close out Anderson in a switch with Morris to force the ball out of his hands (and not bite the shot fake) to force a shot-clock violation. All of this was set up by ball pressure. Although the Rockets will launch shots from anywhere, they weren’t able to step into threes as easily as they’d like. Harden, however, finished 9 of 10 from the foul line which is how he broke the 20-point mark despite being 6-for-24 shooting.

--The Rockets were held to a season-low 14 points in first quarter. They were 0-for-8 on three-point shots and didn’t have any makes from the foul line. They only had 41 at halftime, which was seven fewer than the lowest output for December when the Wizards went 10-5. The Rockets shot 2-for-17 shooting from three in the first 24 minutes. The first-half season low by the Wizards for an opponent is 38 vs. the Orlando Magic on Nov. 25.

RELATED: Wizards develop real home-court edge

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Warriors will visit D.C. kids instead of White House when they play Wizards

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Warriors will visit D.C. kids instead of White House when they play Wizards

Instead of visiting the White House when they come to Washington this week to play the Wizards, the defending-champion Golden State Warriors plan to hold an event with D.C.-area kids.

Their invitation was rescinded by president Donald Trump following a back-and-forth between the two sides last year. After the Warriors won the title, they openly questioned whether they should follow the tradition given many of the players and coaches disagree with his policies. Trump took the opportunity away before they came to a final decision.

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The Warriors' event will be closed off to the media and held at an undisclosed location. It is set for Tuesday, the day before they play the Wizards at Capital One Arena. The Warriors had the option of holding a ceremony with other politicians in the Democratic party, but decided that would send the wrong message. 

"It's their championship. They got disinvited to the White House, so it's up to them what they wanted to do. So they made their plans," coach Steve Kerr said. "I want the players to have a good day and to do something positive and to enjoy what they're doing."

The Warriors are the first NBA team to make this choice since Trump was elected president. Last season, the Cleveland Cavaliers held their celebration with president Barack Obama in November. They did so just days after Trump was elected and LeBron James questioned at the time whether he would visit the White House with Trump in office.

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Sports teams visiting the White House goes back to the mid-1800s. The first World Series title team to visit was the 1924 Washington Senators. By the 1960s, NBA teams were going and by the 1980s NFL and NHL teams made it a tradition.

Entire teams snubbing the White House is unusual, but many players have turned down the opportunity. In the NBA, some famous cases include Larry Bird in 1984 and Michael Jordan in 1991, according to Rolling Stone.

Perhaps the Warriors start a trend, or maybe it will be a one-off thing. Regardless, the alternative they chose is a respectable one. 

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' blowout loss to Hornets, including Bradley Beal's buzzer-beater

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' blowout loss to Hornets, including Bradley Beal's buzzer-beater

Here are the five best plays or moments from the Wizards' 122-105 loss to the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night...

1. This was a tough one for the Wizards. For the third time this season, they got beaten by the Hornets and for the second straight time it was in a blowout.

They still had their moments, though, including this alley-oop from Tomas Satoransky (11 points) to Markieff Morris (13 points, eight assists, six rebounds). It was the second alley-oop connection for those two in as many games:

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2. This was a play that encapsulated the Wizards' night. Jodie Meeks drew a flagrant foul on Michael Carter-Williams, but took a hard shot to the head:

3. Kelly Oubre, Jr. had a solid game with 11 points, including this big dunk:

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4. Speaking of Oubre, he helped the Wizards close the first half with a late surge. The real highlight was Bradley Beal stealing the ball and hitting a corner three at the buzzer:

5. Beal ended up with 33 points, six assists and six rebounds. Here's an and-1 he got to go down in the second half:

All in all, it was an ugly performance for the Wizards. To cheer you up, we'll leave you with this young fan who had a great time at Capital One Arena despite the result:

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