WASHINGTON -- The Washington Wizards lost to the Houston Rockets 114-111 on Wednesday night at Capital One Arena...
Another one decided in crunch time
There have been two game-winning threes hit in the final seconds in the last five days at Capital One Arena and the Wizards have been on the wrong end of them both times. DeMar DeRozan of the Bulls beat them from the corner on New Year's Day and then Kevin Porter Jr. hit a sidestep triple over Raul Neto to lift the Rockets to an upset win on Wednesday.
This one technically wasn't a buzzer-beater. There were 0.4 seconds put back on the clock after an official review, but it produced the same effect. The Wizards were left stunned as they walked off the floor, wondering how they let a game that was so close slip away.
Though this one came down to the wire, the Wizards are probably kicking themselves for losing to one of the league's worst teams. The Rockets had lost eight straight games coming in.
Kyle Kuzma kept it rolling with 24 points, his fifth straight game with 20-plus, the second-longest streak of his career. He also had nine rebounds. Bradley Beal, though, fouled out early in the fourth quarter and his absence loomed large down the stretch.
The Wizards fell back to .500 at 19-19 with the loss. They are 4-4 in their last eight games.
KCP got it going
Though it wasn't their best offensive performance, Wizards had some stretches of excellent ball movement in this game and often the extra pass seemed to find Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. He took advantage and found an early rhythm to score 14 points in the first half on 6-of-8 shooting. He scored 26 points for the game, shooting 5-for-9 from three.
Caldwell-Pope needed a night like that. He shot 2-for-11 on Monday and 5-for-14 the game before. He entered Wednesday shooting 33.3% in his last 10 games. While the offense has heated up overall, Caldwell-Pope has been cold. Maybe Wednesday's game can get him going.
Beal vs. Green
This game featured a matchup between one of the best shooting guards in the league and a young player who could join those ranks in the near future; Beal of the Wizards and Jalen Green of the Rockets, the No. 2 pick in the 2021 draft. Beal had a rough game and, to be fair, he was probably due for one. He had been playing his best basketball of the season lately and finally cooled off.
Though he scored 27 points, it was on 25 shot attempts. It didn't help that Beal got into foul trouble, picking up his fifth with 2:36 left in the third quarter. He then fouled out with 9:10 to go in the fourth after he pushed off on a stepback jumper.
Green had a solid game of 22 points and six rebounds. He shot 8-for-17 from the field and 2-for-7 from three, including a big one with just over two minutes to go. He also had one of the highlights of the night, a fastbreak slam where he got up eye-to-eye with the rim, reached back and threw it down with authority. Green has some serious hops.
Bertans got hurt
While the Wizards got one player back, they saw another one go down. Davis Bertans exited early in the second quarter and was soon announced to have suffered a left foot sprain. The severity will likely be determined in the next 24 hours, but he appeared to be in some pain.
It was an unfortunate turn of events for Bertans, who was playing in just his second game back after missing two games with a non-COVID illness. Bertans also missed several weeks earlier this season with an ankle issue. He's had some trouble staying on the floor and the timing is not great with this particular injury. Bertans has been lighting it up from deep with four or more threes in his previous three games.
The Wizards should get a few more players back soon, as before the game head coach Wes Unseld Jr. revealed three have been cleared from health and safety protocols; Spencer Dinwiddie, Aaron Holiday and Rui Hachimura. Dinwiddie and Holiday, it seems, are likely to return on Friday night in Chicago. Hachimura is expected to travel with the team and it sounds like he could make his season debut very soon, perhaps some time on this two-game road trip.
Center Thomas Bryant is also waiting to make his season debut after spending the last year recovering from ACL surgery. He cleared protocols two days ago and, according to Unseld Jr., should be ready to debut in a week or two. The only guys remaining in protocols are Montrezl Harrell, Anthony Gill and then the two replacement point guards, Brad Wanamaker and Tremont Waters. The Wizards continue to make progress towards being whole again.