Wizards

Quick Links

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

Quick Links

Three things to watch for Wizards' first matchup with Kawhi Leonard and the Raptors

usatsi_10808335.jpg
USA Today Sports

Three things to watch for Wizards' first matchup with Kawhi Leonard and the Raptors

John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter Jr. and the Washington Wizards battle Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka and the Toronto Raptors on Saturday night. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.

Here are three things to watch...

Will Howard play?

Once again, we await word from head coach Scott Brooks on the status of Dwight Howard. Howard, who missed all of the Wizards' preseason with a piriformis injury, was a gametime decision for the opener on Thursday. He ended up not playing, but appeared very close to finally making his debut.

Saturday night could be a different story, though we won't know until shortly before gametime. The Wizards' training staff will evaluate him pregame and make the call. If he can't go, Ian Mahinmi will get the nod as starter like he did against Miami.

Need more Otto

Though it wasn't the reason why the Wizards lost to the Heat, it certainly stood out in the box score how Otto Porter Jr. went without a three-point attempt in the opener. Porter finished third in three-point percentage last season with a 44.1 clip. He simply has to be more involved in the offense.

It will be interesting to see what adjustment the Wizards make to create more opportunities for Porter, and how Porter responds. All parties involved insist it is a mix of several factors, including a need for Porter to simply be more aggressive. That won't be easy against a tough Raptors defense, but expect Porter to get up plenty of threes in this one.

First look at Leonard

The Wizards know this team well, having just seen them in the playoffs in the spring. But the Raptors have a major difference this season with perennial All-NBA selection Kawhi Leonard swapped in for DeMar DeRozan.

It was the biggest trade of the offseason and now the Wizards get to see the new version of Toronto for the first time. Though Leonard only played eight games last season due to injury, he is off to a strong start so far in this one.

Through two games, Leonard is averaging 27.5 pints and 11.0 rebounds. He just dropped 31 in a win over the Celtics on Friday night. This is his first back-to-back, so that could play a factor.

The Raptors also got guard Danny Green in the deal and he's averaging 12.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.5 blocks and 1.5 steals while shooting 50 percent from three so far. Getting him in the trade was a very underrated move by Toronto.

 

MORE WIZARDS NEWS:

Quick Links

Swaggy Picasso's Sole Talk had the Wizards taking notice opening night

Swaggy Picasso's Sole Talk had the Wizards taking notice opening night

The connection between athletes and their fans is a powerful thing in sports. The NBA is one of the trendiest, fashion-forward leagues in the world. From shoe design to overall wardrobe to eccentric personalities...the Association has it all on display for fans across the globe to consume. 

Lloyd Ferguson, a fan himself and native of Silver Spring, Md., is bursting onto the customized sneakers scene as an up-and-coming artist. 

His Instagram (@SwaggyPicasso) serves as his personal laboratory and a platform to share his creations. 

Prior to the start of Thursday night's Wizards-Heat game, NBC Sports Washington invited Ferguson to Capital One Arena for what would become a memorable night for the 23-year-old. 

Chris Miller and Drew Gooden featured Swaggy Picasso on the pregame show for an interview and sneaker showcase.

"The inside of my body was jiggling and moving. I was like 'I gotta keep composed and stay cool. You're on national televison, Lloyd.'" 

You would have never known it. 

Ferguson, who was a basketball player himself locally, grew up a Wizards and D.C. sports fan all around. 

Little did he know several Wizards would take notice of his artwork. 

Kelly Oubre, Devin Robinson and John Wall - each known for their wardrobes and respective styles - stopped by to take a peek at Ferguson's kicks. 

"Their reactions to my art was all I needed, honestly. They see the potential and growth. It's very overwhelming." 

It was a groundbreaking night for a young talent with lofty dreams and aspirations. 

Swaggy Picasso has no plans of stopping anytime soon. 

"I've been busting out these shoes day and night. I don't sleep. My desire to paint shoes is ridiculous." 

 

MORE WIZARDS NEWS: