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Wizards take out Rockets by beating them at their own game, with threes

Wizards take out Rockets by beating them at their own game, with threes

The Washington Wizards beat the Houston Rockets 121-103 on Friday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Much better showing: It defies logic how the Wizards can be so great against one of the NBA's best teams, then turn around and lose to one of the worst, like they did against the Celtics and Hawks earlier this week. But the pattern continued on Friday night, as Washington took out a very good Rockets team that had Chris Paul return to their lineup from injury.

Head coach Scott Brooks even joked about it before the game, saying "the Rockets are above .500, right? We should be alright." Indeed they were.

The Wizards locked in defensively from the opening tip. They held the Rockets to just 48 points in the first half on 38.3 percent shooting. Perhaps the fact the Rockets had played the Celtics in Boston the night before helped, but there were several defensive standouts for the Wizards.

John Wall (17 points, four assists) was all over the place and had two steals in the first quarter that led to buckets on the other end. He finished with five steals on the night.

It's easy to see why Wall was motivated to show up on defense with the presence of James Harden and Paul on the other side. They are All-NBA guards and Wall was up for the challenge.

The Wizards did a good job contesting threes, which was going to be a big part of this game. The Rockets attempt and make more threes than any other team and the Wizards boast the lowest opponents three-point percentage in the NBA.

The Wizards played strong team defense. There was even a point where Ian Mahinmi got switched on Harden in the first quarter and had to guard him on two different plays. Both times he got stops and one was on a long two which the Rockets try their best to avoid.

Houston picked up their pace on offense in the second half, which was to be expected. But the Wizards held Harden to 20 points and Paul to seven. They shut down the guys they needed to and earned one of their most impressive wins of the season.

The Wizards are now 15-10 on the season with Wall in the lineup and 20-16 overall on the year.

All of the threes: The Wizards beat the Rockets at their own game with an array of shots from downtown. They went 18-for-36 on the night for a very good 50 percent. Those 18 threes tied a franchise record and the 36 attempts set a new mark.

Otto Porter (26 points, seven assists, six rebounds) was the star of the show. He tied a career-high with seven threes. Bradley Beal (21 points) had three and so did Kelly Oubre, Jr. (21 points).

Oubre, by the way, now has 24 games this season with double-digit points in 36 appearances. That matches his total from all of last season in 79 games.

Sato threw it down: Tomas Satoransky can never be called a 'practice dunker' by his teammates ever again. The second-year guard threw down one of the best poster dunks of the season so far and Rockets big man Zhou Qi was his victim.

Injury scare: Beal also had a big dunk, but his resulted in an injury. Beal left the game soon after throwing down with his right hand after he apparently hurt his left arm. Beal was holding his arm and was quickly subbed out. Here's the play:

Beal never left for the locker room and ultimately returned, so it must not have been serious.

Scott didn't play: The Wizards were without one of their best bench players as backup forward Mike Scott sat out due to the birth of his second child. The Wizards expect him to be back for Sunday's game.

Up next: The Wizards are off Saturday before hosting the Chicago Bulls on New Year's Eve. That game tips off at 3:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.

[RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS]

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Ty Lawson is playing a bigger role than anyone could have predicted for Wizards vs. Raptors

Ty Lawson is playing a bigger role than anyone could have predicted for Wizards vs. Raptors

The biggest surprise of the Wizards-Raptors series through two games, at least from Washington's perspective, has to be the fact Ty Lawson has very quickly earned a prominent role in Scott Brooks' playoff rotation.

Lawson, 30, was signed the day after the regular season and after he played much of 2017-18 in China with the Shandong Golden Stars. He did not appear in one game with the Wizards or any other NBA team during the regular season, yet he was the first point guard off the bench in Game 2.

When John Wall picked up two quick fouls, it was Lawson who got the nod, not Tomas Satoransky. Lawson ended up playing 31 minutes, more than Satoransky and fellow backup point guard Tim Frazier have earned combined through two games.

Though the Wizards had three point guards on their bench behind Wall before Lawson even signed, he has apparently surpassed them all on the depth chart. Satoransky is the most surprising, given he played quite well during the regular season.

Satoransky averaged 7.2 points, 3.9 assists and shot a team-best 46.5 percent from three. He had the highest offensive rating (124) on the team.

Lawson, though, played quite well in Game 2. He put up 14 points, eight assists and three rebounds while shooting 4-for-5 from three.

Lawson outscored four of the Wizards' five starters. Not bad for his first game.

"He did everything I knew he was capable of doing," Brooks said. "I’ve seen him do it for many, many years. He’s tough, he’s a competitor. He competes and pushes the pace. He plays defense. I liked the spirit."

Lawson provided a noticeable spark. He is still quick and aggressive with the ball, not afraid to look for his own shot, and played physical defense against the Raptors. Lawson ended the night plus-8 in the box score in a game the Wizards lost by 11.

"It’s good to see him get into a game and be able to produce for us," guard Bradley Beal said.

Given the Wizards lost Game 2 and face an 0-2 deficit in their series, it is likely that Brooks continues to alter his rotation in the coming games. He could go back to Satoransky more often, knowing he had some solid games against Toronto in the regular season, including on March 2 when he had 10 points, eight assists and six rebounds.

Satoransky could see more time at shooting guard or small forward and could play alongside Lawson. That might be Satoransky's best bet because Lawson did nothing in Game 2 to squander the opportunity.

For a team whose effort has been questioned by their head coach, Lawson's energy and urgency was noteworthy. He brought the edge of a guy playing for his NBA career, knowing a good playoff series could earn him a contract next season. 

Clearly, the way Lawson played was refreshing for Brooks given how long he kept him out on the floor. He may have come out of nowhere, but it looks like Lawson is here to stay.

MORE ON THE WIZARDS-RAPTORS SERIES:

WIZARDS NEED BEAL TO BE MUCH BETTER TO WIN

BROOKS MAY CHANGE STARTING LINEUP FOR GAME 3

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Beal and Porter need to step up and so does the defense

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Beal and Porter need to step up and so does the defense

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, Chase Hughes and Chris Miller broke down the Wizards' 0-2 deficit and how Bradley Beal and Otto Porter need to play better.

They went into the potential change in the starting lineup, why the Wizards are doing so poorly on defense and the historical odds the Wizards are now up against.

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!