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Morning tip: Wizards' Scott Brooks fed up with lack of foul calls in loss to Celtics

Morning tip: Wizards' Scott Brooks fed up with lack of foul calls in loss to Celtics

BOSTON -- Just 12 free throws after an intense, physical loss to the Boston Celtics finally drew the ire of Wizards coach Scott Brooks. His point guard is ailing, his shooting guard was taken to the floor but was assessed a technical instead of Marcus Smart, and they lost 117-108.

"The game turned when they put their hands on us and we allowed that," Brooks said. "It's not our job to keep them from putting their hands on (us). We need to get some calls. We don't get to the free-throw line. That's just the way it is. I'm not complaining about it. That's not the way basketball is supposed to be played. You're supposed to play it in a way that's supposed to be free-flowing. That wasn't the case in that second half."

The league office will have its hands full in sorting out the mess that happened after the final buzzer between Jae Crowder and John Wall. There also could be a review of Brooks' comments regarding the officiating crew of Mike Callahan, Tony Brothers and Leon Wood as these were the most stern comments he has made about the subject in his first season with the Wizards. 

It's not that the Celtics were given more free throws than they deserved. There just weren't a lot of whistles, which can be a good or bad thing pending perspective. Boston only was whistled six times in the second half which led to five free throws. Washington was hit with five second-half fouls that produced six foul shots the other way.

For the game, the Celtics were only called for 10 total fouls -- four by Marcus Smart. The Wizards had 13, with Bradley Beal getting four of them. He was assessed a techical at 8:51 of the third quarter when Smart grabbed him and both players ended up on the floor.

[RELATED: Animosity between Wall, Crowder requires police to keep peace]

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James Harden, Rockets offer ultimate test for Trevor Ariza, Wizards' three-point defense

James Harden, Rockets offer ultimate test for Trevor Ariza, Wizards' three-point defense

Much of the reasoning for why the Wizards traded for veteran forward Trevor Ariza this past weekend was to plug the holes in their three-point defense. After 31 games this season, Washington ranks 26th among NBA teams in three-pointers allowed per game and 27th in opponents three-point percentage.

On Wednesday, the Wizards will receive the ultimate test for their revamped perimeter defense in the Houston Rockets. Tip-off is at 8 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.

The Rockets are not simply a good three-point shooting team in the context of this era, they rival some of the best outside shooting teams of all-time. Their 14 threes made per game are top in the NBA and are tied for the third-most in league history. 

The top two teams ever in made threes were also the Rockets. They set the all-time record in 2016-17 with 14.4, then beat their own mark last season with 15.3 threes per game.

It's a similar story for threes attempted. Houston leads the league with 41.1 three-point shots per game. That would rank second all-time behind only last season's Rockets (42.3/g) and ahead of the third-most ever (40.3) set by Houston the year before.

The difference this season has been their percentage. After ranking 13th in the NBA last year at 36.2 percent, this time they are shooting just 33.9 percent, good for 24th. Still, no team takes or makes more threes, and the Wizards will be charged with stopping them.

The Wizards know the Rockets' three-point shooting prowess well. Houston has made at least 12 threes in the last seven meetings between the teams. Four times in that span, they have hit 15 threes or more. No team has done that more often against the Wizards since the start of the 2015-16 season. Considering they play each other only twice a year as members of different conferences, that is telling.

Ariza is also familiar with what the Rockets are capable of. After leaving Washington in free agency in the summer of 2014, he signed with Houston and spent four seasons there before joining the Suns this past summer. He was a key cog in the Rockets' 65-win team last season, as they fell one win short of the NBA Finals.

The Wizards and Rockets also saw each other less than a month ago in Washington. The Wizards pulled off a 135-131 victory in overtime, one of their best wins of the season, even with Houston off to a disappointing start. 

Chris Paul didn't play in that game, but James Harden dropped 54 points and Eric Gordon and Clint Capela were a handful. John Wall had 36 points and 11 assists and Bradley Beal put in 32 points, as well as some timely defense down the stretch on Harden. He helped force several of Harden's 11 turnovers.

Now comes the rematch, this time with the Rockets fresh off four straight wins and with Paul set to play. It won't be easy beating Houston twice in one season, something they haven't done as a franchise since 1988-89. Perhaps Ariza can help make the difference.

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Dwight Howard shares his first health update since back surgery

Dwight Howard shares his first health update since back surgery

Three weeks removed from back surgery to take care of his nagging gluteal injury, Dwight Howard rejoined the Washington Wizards for their Tuesday night contest with the Atlanta Hawks inside State Farm Arena. 

"Physically, I'm a lot better than I was before the surgery," Howard told NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller. "The nine games I played, I basically played on one leg. So, you know, I'm just happy that that's out the way and I can rehab and get ready for the second half of the season."

During those nine games, the 33-year-old averaged 12.8 points, 9.2 rebounds, while shooting over 62% from the floor. 

Howard is no stranger to back surgery. In 2012, the then Orlando Magic center underwent a procedure to repair a herniated disk which ended his season and took him out of Summer Olympics (London) participation. 

The veteran now deals with a slow recovery process before returning to basketball activities. 

Right now, the only I can do for rehab is just walk. Anybody who has had back surgery, they understand that. You know, for the first month and a half, you can't lift weights. You can't run. You can't do anything but basically walk. 

Howard plans to remain in Atlanta for rehab. Three weeks ago, Washington said it would re-evaluate Howard after two or three months. 

"Every day I try to sit down, and you know, spend at least an hour visualizing, you know, getting healthy, but also returning to the court."

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