home 2015-16, Blogs, Game Coverage Game Notebook 20, Wizards vs. Rockets: A Failure To Launch

Game Notebook 20, Wizards vs. Rockets: A Failure To Launch

Rockets 109
Wizards 103

December 9, 2015 – Verizon Center, Washington, DC

ESPN Box Score

Another home game. Another home loss. Another session of post game comments with the same old rhetoric. “Soft”. “Lack of energy”. “Not aggressive.” Coach Wittman said after the game that he’s “tired of having to come in at half time and light a fire under these guys.” And we’re tired of hearing about it.

Once again, a visiting team jumped out to an early lead against the hometown Wizards, and once again they fell just short attempting to overcome.

Tonight’s guest? The Houston Rockets, who were coming in on the second night of a back-to-back, ripe for an early Wizards surge inspiring a failure to launch. Instead, the Rockets lifted off immediately, with James Harden supplying the Rocket fuel, and the Wizards generously providing them with the perfect launching platform. Wide open corner threes, uncontested alley-oops, and a general lack of resistance left the Wizards trailing a halftime, looking up at Rockets and inhaling fumes.

The Rockets finished the half shooting 8-for-17 from 3, led by Captain Flop with 19 points on 7-10 shooting, and 4-5 from three. The Wizards remained grounded, shooting an abysmal 39% on 17-44 shots. The result was a 56-47 Rockets halftime lead.

Something at halftime, be it Wittman’s words or player pride, finally ignited a fire under the Wizards, and they began the second half on their own search-and-destroy mission. Washington forced turnovers on six of the Rockets first seven possessions, culminating in this Beal to Wall alley-oop that set the house on fire and gave he Wizards a 63-62 lead.

From there, John Wall took over, looking set on turning the Rockets into the Houston Challengers. He smoked the Rockets in transition:

Then left they’re coordinates completely jammed with this dish:

But John Wall was not the only player playing with fire in the second half. While Wall was throwing fireballs, James Harden was stirring up scalding gasoline, and pouring it all over the Verizon Center floor. Threes. Step backs. Layups. Free throws. Chef Harden was serving it all up hot-and-ready.

Down the stretch, Harden and Wall exchanged blows, with Harden getting a huge and-1 bucket, to give the Rockets a 102-99 lead, and Wall responding with a jumper to make it a one point game. After a Jason Terry layup gave the Rockets 104-101 lead, the Wizards had one final chance. On the critical possession, it was the same old story. A Wall turnover led to a transition lay-up for the Rockets, the seventh assist for Harden on a 42 points, 9 rebound, 7 assist night.

And with that, the Wizards walked off their home floor with another home loss, while Houston completed another successful mission:

Ignition: Check
Engine: Check
Take-off: Check
Victory: Check

Mission accomplished.


Marcin Gortat returned from his family related hiatus, and played well. He had 18 points and 13 rebounds, and held his own against Dwight Howard inside.

Defending the three point line. This continues to be a story, and there’s no signs of it improving anytime soon. Once again, the Wizards gave up numerous open threes (especially open corner threes), and the Rockets took advantage. Coming in shooting 33%, the Rockets hit 12/33 against the Wizards, good for 36.4%. And a number of these were wide open corner threes, including two huge late buckets by Jason Terry and Patrick Beverly. On one set in the fourth quarter, the Rockets had four players poorly spaced on one side of the floor, with two Rockets stuck in the same corner, and the ball in the hands of a player on the wing. This somehow resulted in a wide open three from the opposite corner from an inexplicably unguarded man. As long as the Wizards keep giving away these shots, they’ll continue giving away games.

#WizRockets in a tweet..

The Game’s Top Performers:

John Wall and James Harden

James Harden had been largely inconsistent this season, but tonight, he was switched “ON” and turned up. 42 points on 13-23 shooting, 5-9 from the 3-point line, and 12 free throw attempts. And he added a closing few minutes worthy of any great player.

Writing this next sentence is getting old fast: John Wall was great, in another loss. Wall finished with 26 points, 12 assists, 9 rebounds, and 3 steals. He was particularly stellar in the 3rd quarter, where he had 10 points and 5 assists, and looked like he might carry the Wizards to victory by himself. But alas, it was not to be….again.

A forgettable night for..

Last names ending in “eal”

What’s wrong with Bradley Beal? Once again, coach Wittman cited his aggressiveness, saying “he played too soft.” John Wall adamantly disputed his coach’s use of the word “soft” postgame:

Soft or not, Beal committed seven turnovers, and shot 1-for-7 from three. And these were not your pure-shooter in-and-out misses. These were airballs, and Josh Smith style bricks that left you ducking court side. Early season Beal was stellar, while John Wall struggled. Now Wall is starring, but Beal is struggling. The Wizards need both, and they need them now.

As for Gary Neal, he was just bad. We’ve gotten accustomed to Gary providing instant offense off the bench, and carrying the Wizards for short spurts at a time. Tonight, he just didn’t have it. 2-for-11 shooting, 1-for-6 from 3. Ugh.

we are Hoop District

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