Washington Wizards 105, Houston Rockets 103: Having big men can be fairly useful.

It’s one thing to lose to the Washington Wizards.  They are a team who have been extremely well since the return of John Wall well since the return of John Wall, having defeated the Clippers, Knicks, and Nuggets recently before tonight’s game.  The Rockets were on the second part of a back-to-back, were still shorthanded thanks to the fact that the Robinson trade still isn’t officially completed as the Kings delay with the physicals of Patterson and company for whatever reason, and lost Greg Smith for the fourth quarter with a knee injury that appeared quite serious when it happened as he had to be helped off the court (though according to Jonathon Feign, it appears to be fine and Smith will not miss any games).

It’s another thing to lose to Trevor Ariza.

The former Rocket was the difference tonight as he played like someone completely different from the person who signed that contract almost four years ago.  His drives were successful, his 3 pointers went in, and he did a good job guarding Harden.  Ariza still recklessly gambled for steals a few times, but he scored 11 points in the 3rd quarter and helped to turn the game from what appeared to be a potential Houston blowout at the end of the first half into a close game.  From there, the Wizards took advantage of the Okafor-Nene combo against a seriously depleted Houston frontcourt to secure a huge come from behind win.

Initially, it really did appear to be a blowout.  The Rockets fired plenty of 3’s and they went in to take the first quarter lead of 32-22.  While the Wizards responded with a strong run to cut the lead to two as they scored 9 points in the first two and a half minutes, they were then held scoreless for the next four minutes as Houston built a 17 point lead and finished the quarter leading 57-46.  Chandler Parsons scored 22 of his 24 points in the first half, as the Rockets came one short of tying their earlier record of most 3’s made in a single half against Golden State.  Exhaustion from the previous game meant that the 3 pointers began to fail, and Washington began to hit their own as they made 4 of their 7 3 pointers in the 3rd quarter.  However, despite the 3 pointers and Ariza’s heroics, the Rockets still walked into the last period with a 6 point lead.

Unfortunately, the lack of big men finally served to hinder the Rockets at the very end.  Lacking any effective big men outside of Asik and Motiejunas due to the Greg Smith injury, McHale was forced to rest Asik halfway throughout the fourth quarter and sent a frontcourt of Delfino and Motiejunas against Emeka Okafor and Nene.  It ended as badly as could be expected.   Washington went on a 7-0 run to completely erase Houston’s lead, and from there the game turned into a tight, contested affair.  At the very end with the score tied at 103, the Rockets fouled Okafor, and he hit the free throw which would end the game.

  • I’m hearing that apparently Lin played with a cold tonight, and that would certainly explain things, because I’m not sure whether the game at Toronto or tonight was his worst performance of the season.  Lin’s jumpers were off, he had difficulty driving to the lane against the Washington frontcourt, and while his defense has been good for most of this season, John Wall largely drove past Lin whenever he wanted and passed to the open man when the defense collapsed on him.  The Rockets did run Patrick Beverley instead for large parts of the game, and the backup guard rebounded from his poor game against Brooklyn with 15 points on 9 shots.  What was particularly noteworthy of Beverley’s play was his rebounding as he jumped in at the last moment to grab 2 offensive boards in a manner which reminded me of Kyle Lowry.
  • Motiejunas was more effective tonight than he was against Brooklyn and consequently received more minutes.  Surprisingly enough, he managed six rebounds in 23 minutes and was considerably more aggressive, though he repeatedly was completely stymied whenever he tried to back down Nene in the post.  He also hit 2 3’s late in the game to keep the Rockets in the game and finished with 11 points.  The defense still needs considerable work, especially on the pick and roll where he almost seems to ignore the roll man, but it’s something I believe he can gain over time.
  • Even if Lin played horribly tonight, there was one thing which amused me as someone who attended tonight’s game.  I have not lived in Houston for nearly 4 and a half years, but have taken care to attend the games where they come into town.  For the past two years, the general reaction by bystanders on seeing a Rockets hat was to ask why I was a Rockets fan.  Tonight, with a large amount of people wearing Lin or Harden jerseys or T-shirts mentioning Lin in some form, there was no point in asking that question.  The Rockets are a team to be talked about again.

I stated at the beginning of the month that I thought 6 wins would make a successful month and 7 an excellent one.  Even after the Washington defeat, we still are at 6 wins and will have one more game against an inferior Milwaukee team.  Hopefully Sacramento will have completed their physical by then and Robison will have played in a few practices by that point.

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  • thejohnnygold says 3 months ago

    I disagree slightly with amacbrooks, this was most definitely a game we "could" lose. We don't match up well with them---especially with the PF issue...but before that too--and their coach implemented a good game plan that we had no answer for except to make 3's. We didn't make enough. If we want to point at anything that let this game get away...how about the 3 ghost passes in the fourth quarter (2 of which were back to back) combined with the abundance of offensive fouls....too many sloppy turnovers. The Rockets played poorly as a team and still barely lost. I'll take that as a positive. And for anyone who doubts it, Washington (with Wall) is one of the best teams in the East right now. Except for Ariza, their starting 5 are all draft lottery players.

  • ale11 says 3 months ago

    Ariza played like it wasn't him but someone else wearing #1 in Washington. But it's true, Wall makes this team so much better. I'm not saying they truly have a chance of making the playoffs but only because they really fell behind without him.

    It's also true that Wall got some calls that Harden didn't at the other end and that shifted the balance slightly to them. Let's not forget that Beal got a crucial rebound....why was Asik with him instead of anybody else???? The rebound fell to the other side and both Parsons and Delfino were worried about boxing out their man instead of getting the rebound themselves, of course Beal is gonna run faster than Asik, that's miscommunication!

    I know we had some excuses, but we can't lose this game. I mean, in paper, you can lose any given game, but not when you were up by 17 in the first half!

  • feelingsupersonic says 3 months ago I think the high amount of outside shots was a direct result of fatigue. If this team had some defense to it then yes I would have expected a win after the offense faltered despite playing with about 7 players but this team is not known for it's defense so there we go. It's the NBA gentlemen, you are going to lose some games like this. At least we got the OKC win so we are where we should be since the break or for February. The team has a good 3 days between games so lets see what happens Wednesday.

    (I do like the 'we have to win no matter what' attitude that amacbrooks wrote about above and I think Harden and the Rockets showed that they have that in the OKC game.)
  • tombrokeoff says 3 months ago we were up 17 early. we should have never let washington get back in this one. the fact that all we took were outside shots for a good stretch late in the game was upsetting to me. no excuses rockets should have handled this team.
  • sircharles says 3 months ago with wall back washington really isnt a bad team, i knew it would be a close game.
  • Sir Thursday says 3 months ago

    thenit, on 24 February 2013 - 16:58 PM said:

    Lin had a terrible game. Usually I think he is a decent one on one defender, but can't handle shooting pgs due to going under on screens. Today he just looked like he lacked energy on both ends of the floor. He settled for jump shots and I don't recall him attacking the rim more than a couple of times. Whether that was because of the Nene and Okafor or just lack of energy I'm not sure.

    As the recap mentions, Lin was suffering with a cold last night, which was definitely sapping his energy. I thought something might be up when he was subbed out earlier than I expected in the first, and it was noticeable that whenever he was running the break he just couldn't get the speed up to breakaway from the defence.

    I heard somewhere (Feigen, I think?) that Parsons was also struggling a bit, although you wouldn't know it given his first half performance.

  • rockets best fan says 3 months ago I really don't like whinning about officials, but this was the worse I have seen this year. I could swear washington hired them personally for this game. felt like we were in utah of something :lol: harden couldn't get a call and at the same time wall was being treated like lebron. I don't care how they call the game just call it that way on both ends. that clearly didn't happen in this game. if it wasn't for the officials this game would have been a blowout
  • thenit says 3 months ago Lin had a terrible game. Usually I think he is a decent one on one defender, but can't handle shooting pgs due to going under on screens. Today he just looked like he lacked energy on both ends of the floor. He settled for jump shots and I don't recall him attacking the rim more than a couple of times. Whether that was because of the Nene and Okafor or just lack of energy I'm not sure.

    Even Harden looked a little tired, even though he got 27 points he took a lot of 3s and jumpers instead of driving to the rim. 4 FA is low for his standard, but when your best player has a low energy game and can still put up 27p, and thats a bad game, you kind of accept it. The main reason we did have a fairly big lead was due to Parson's hot 1st half, but once he cooled down we didn't really have someone to bring the team home with the win.

    Beverley played well off the bench and I usually want Lin to finish the 4th and play through his struggles for experience, today it was the right call by Mchale, do ride beverley and brought some energy to a tired rockets team. It was a winnable game, but with a short bench and back-back and 3games in 4 days with only 4 subs really, I'm happy with 2 wins out of 3. hopefully the new players will be ready to go next game.
  • thejohnnygold says 3 months ago I don't feel bad about this loss. There were just too many hurdles to clear....the fact that we almost won it is impressive to me. It's gonna be a bumpy ride the rest of the way with all the kids learning how to defend....at this point, trial by fire is the only way to go.
  • amacbrooks12 says 3 months ago I know it was a back-to-back game and we are missing players, but this is the type of game we HAVE TO WIN no matter what. We can't be giving away games to teams well under .500 with just about 25 games left of the season. We have a very favorable schedule coming up for us and we have to take advantage if we want to make the playoffs.
  • Jeby says 3 months ago ST is so right. Everytime I thought of this game yesterday, Admiral Ackbar popped into my head... http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=piVnArp9ZE0
    Can't take it too hard though. We thought we'd lose to OKC and beat the Wiz, but it just ended up the other way around. Still looks the same in the standings.
  • Red94 says 3 months ago New post: Washington Wizards 105, Houston Rockets 103: Having big men can be fairly useful.
  • feelingsupersonic says 3 months ago The back end of a back to back with about 7 players (some playing too many minutes, some with little experience, and some out of position) by the end of the game will always be a loss.

    Motiejunas is the silver lining here, I think he could be the second best player but even if he improves quickly he will have some stinkers.
  • Sir Thursday says 3 months ago Man, I wish I hadn't been right about this being a trap game :(.

    On the plus side, Motiejunas and Beverley both had excellent games. They both have a kind of gangly energy to them that's really fun to watch.

  • Rahat Huq says 3 months ago Motiejunas had some really nice moments in the third.
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Houston Rockets @ Washington Wizards on 2/23/13
Donatas Motiejunas getting his chance
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