For the second game of the Randy Wittman era the Wizards traveled to Houston to take on the Rockets.
The first quarter looked like a continuation of the Wizards’ last game against the Charlotte Bobcats, as I’m sure there were numerous NBA owners that were pointing to this game to justify contraction.
There were turnovers aplenty and missed shots galore. Both the teams combined for 35 missed field goals in the first quarter alone. The only bright spots in the first quarter were John Wall, Jan Vesely (who made his first career start tonight), and the fact the Wizards held a 21 to 17 advantage after the first twelve minutes.
John Wall came racing out of the gates in hopes of dominating the Rockets once again, and he stuffed the stat sheet with 8 points and 4 rebounds in the first quarter. The other bright spot was Jan Vesely, who was highly productive with his pick-and-roll defense and high energy — something the usual starting power forward, Andray Blatche, doesn’t typically give. The Dunking Ninja’s impact was felt in the box score as well with 5 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 blocks in the first frame.
In the second quarter things began to swing back in the Rockets’ direction, as they outscored the Wizards 27 to 20. Houston began knocking down the open shots they had been missing previously and some guy named Chase Budinger began his destruction of the Wizards. Following the 2nd quarter, the Wizards trailed 44 to 41.
The third quarter hasn’t been friendly to Washington this season, and tonight was no exception.
Nick Young opened the quarter with a made mid-range jumper and on the other end of the court the Wizards forced a turnover. To end this sequence, Nick chucked up another turnaround jumper, only for it to be an air ball — leading him to look at his right hand as he made his way back on defense. The rest of the quarter was marred by Chase Budinger doing his LeBron James impression, turnovers, failed boxouts, Luis Scola destruction in the post, and minimal defense. During this time, Luis Scola went off when Jan Vesely was defending him. Vesely is a good young defender but he can’t body up Scola in the post, he’s not strong enough to do that yet. Also, let this sink in… the Wizards were abused by a guy named Chase Budinger. I don’t want to discredit Budinger, he’s a nice young player off the bench, but should he ever be scoring 21 points, grabbing 8 rebounds, and making four 3-point attempts in only 25 minutes? This goes back to the last time the Wizards played Houston at the Verizon Center when Andray Blatche made Samuel Dalembert look like Wilt Chamberlain. Without consistent scoring threat Kevin Martin tonight it was supposed to be a positive for Washington. Instead Chase Budinger looked like an All-Star.
After trailing by three at the half, the Wizards ended up trailing by 16 after the third quarter.
I could recap the fourth quarter but it’s not even worth discussing. All you need to know is that Hasheem Thabeet and Jonny Flynn got playing time for the Rockets, Mo Evans got playing time for the Wizards, JaVale McGee ran wildly down the court on a fast break (although he didn’t get called for a charge somehow), and that’s about it. The Wizards ended up losing 103 to 76.
This was yet another road loss for a team that hasn’t been able to crack the code for winning away from D.C. for two years now. However, this game was just so strange.
Yes… John Wall had another good night and was close to a triple-double and JaVale McGee, Andray Blatche, and Nick Young were their typical frustrating selves. All of those things are expected and commonplace, but it was how the Wizards managed to get blown out in this game that was so frustrating. The Wizards were the better team in the first quarter (and by better I mean they were the taller midget), but couldn’t pull away. They were only down by three at halftime even though they didn’t play particularly well, and got off to a nice start in the third quarter, but midway through the fourth quarter they were getting blown out by 30 points. That isn’t supposed to happen to an NBA team. I’m sure there was at least one person who stepped away from the TV early in the third quarter and came back midway through the fourth and asked himself, “is this the same game?”
The Wizards gave up the nicotine on Wednesday vs. Charlotte, but relapsed tonight in the second half. Hopefully Randy Wittman can hide the Reds the next time his players take the floor tomorrow night in Charlotte.
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