HOUSTON -- In the closing minutes on Wednesday night, the fans in the Toyota Center sensed it. On each Rockets possession, they screamed 'three' in unison and many held up three fingers, imploring their favorite team, one that already leads the NBA in three-point attempts, to take even more.
Whether the Wizards were aware of it or not, they were about to be on the wrong side of history. With 31 seconds left, Michael Carter-Williams sank the Rockets' 26th three of the night, setting a new NBA record for most threes made by one team in a single game.
The Wizards have had a nightmare of a time defending the three-point line this season, and it was taken to the extreme in their 136-118 loss to the Rockets. They allowed 55 attempts, tied for the eighth-most ever, and 47.3 percent of them went through the net.
Afterwards, the Wizards were left to explain how they accounted for the worst three-point defensive effort in the history of a sport.
"It's just extra effort, man," guard Bradley Beal said. "With a team like that that shoots threes and loves to space you out, you've gotta have that extra effort."
Effort has been a lasting theme for the Wizards this season, and not in the good way. They have lacked energy in far too many games, and the team's leaders have pined for it through the media.
But after 32 games, it still isn't there, and now even Trevor Ariza is singing the same tune. He joined the Wizards two games ago in a trade with the Suns, but can already tell what is missing.
"It was definitely on us giving them a lot of open looks. We have to do a better job defensively, giving multiple efforts. We could've given a better effort," Ariza said.
"Basketball is a game of mistakes, so we know we are going to make mistakes. But the thing that you can't do is lack effort. We lack effort. That's what I notice so far."
On some of the threes, the Wizards did make an honest attempt to defend them. The Rockets, of course, deserve credit for their accomplishment.
They did a masterful job of earning mismatches. Too often, Wizards big men like Jeff Green and Thomas Bryant found themselves on an island tasked to cover James Harden or Chris Paul.
Harden in particular devoured them with his stepback jumper. He swished threes right in Wizards' players faces. Even when they anticipated the stepback move and closed out right into his space, he still made shots.
"In this league, with the way fouls are called, you can't guard him," John Wall said. "You just pray he miss."
Six different Rockets players hit multiple threes. Harden had six and scored 35 points. Paul had five and dropped 21. Eric Gordon and Gerald Green each had four.
But it wasn't just the usual suspects. The fact Carter-Williams hit the record-breaker was fitting, as it helped illustrate just how bad the Wizards' defense was.
Since he entered the NBA in 2013-14, Carter-Williams has the worst career three-point percentage of any player (min. 500 attempts). His lifetime average is 25.4 percent.
After Wednesday night's horror show, the Wizards maintain their status as one of the worst three-point defenses in the NBA. They are 27th in threes allowed (12.4) and 28th in opponents three-point percentage (37.3).
They hoped Ariza would help with their perimeter defense and, over time, he may. For one night, however, it was as bad as it could possibly be.
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