February 23, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; Houston Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin (7) dribbles the ball as Washington Wizards small forward Martell Webster (9) defends in the third quarter at Verizon Center. The Wizards won 105-103. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Preview: Washington Wizards vs. Houston Rockets (Key Match Up, Notes, and Prediction)

Despite a blowout loss to the Indiana Pacers last night, the Wizards have been pretty successful on the road and they’ll be back home tonight against the Houston Rockets, who also suffered a loss last night. The game tips off at 7:00 PM from the Verizon Center.

Key Match Up:

Washington’s big men struggled mightily against Roy Hibbert and David West last night, but it won’t get any easier tonight against the Rockets. Even though he’s been criticized for the past few years, Dwight Howard is still one of the best centers in the NBA. The Rockets, who are sixth in league in rebounds per game, are anchored by Dwight Howard’s presence on both sides of the floor. He’s good enough in the post to command double teams, but his defensive prowess is certainly want separates him from other centers in the NBA.

With that said, Marcin Gortat has played with Dwight Howard in Orlando, so nothing Howard does tonight should come as a surprise. Gortat credits Howard for helping him develop in Orlando, but the two big men play very different styles of basketball. Gortat has to compete on the glass with Howard, or else it’ll be a long night for the Wizards. Washington can’t let the Rockets get second chance shots, especially since they’re such a good offensive team. James Harden and the rest of Houston’s wings must be limited to just one shot attempt and it all starts with rebounding the ball. John Wall and Bradley Beal have to try and penetrate more often with Howard on the floor, since he’s been known for picking up fouls in bunches. If the Wizards contain Howard and limit Houston’s shot attempts, they should be able to compete tonight.

Notes:

  • Houston is coming off a road loss to the Al Horford-less Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks shot just 37 percent from the field, but managed to come away with the win.
  • The Rockets are 5th in points per game. They’re also a top-5 rebounding team.
  • Chandler Parsons sat out last night with a sore right knee. I don’t expect him to play night. Ronnie Brewer will get the start.

Prediction:

Washington hasn’t gotten a “signature” win this entire season, which is essentially the opposite of last season. They only have 1 win against a team over .500, and they’re desperately trying to get back on track at home. The Wizards have always played pretty well against the Rockets and I think they’ll be motivated heading into tonight’s game. John Wall and Trevor Ariza should be able to overwhelm Jeremy Lin and Ronnie Brewer, while Washington’s bigs shouldn’t get dominated by Howard and Terrence Jones. Trevor Booker will be able to compete on the glass with anybody on the court, and I think that will be the deciding factor.

I’ll pick the Wizards to finally get an upset victory. James Harden is obviously a very tough cover, but Bradley Beal has done a decent job against him in the past. John Wall really needs to remain aggressive tonight. If he does that, the Wizards could find themselves on the winning side of things tonight.

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