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.
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