Jan 11, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; Houston Rockets shooting guard James Harden (13) dribbles the ball as Washington Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal (3) defends in the fourth quarter at Verizon Center. The Rockets won 114-107. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Wizards at Rockets: Game Time, Key Match Up, Notes, and Prediction


Well, the Wizards are back under .500 after dropping a very winnable game in Memphis last night, but they’ll have a chance to redeem themselves tonight against the Houston Rockets on the second night of a back-to-back. The game will tip off at 8:00 PM (EST) from the Toyota Center.

Key Match Up:

Dwight Howard is probably still the best center in the NBA, and despite the criticism, he’s one of the best players in the league and has shown improvement in Houston. Howard is averaging over 25 points on 64% shooting and nearly 11 rebounds per game in the last 5 outings, all of which have resulted in wins for Houston. He’s always given the Wizards trouble, and that probably won’t change tonight. Marcin Gortat got thoroughly outplayed by Howard the last time the two teams met, so they’ll have to do a better job at containing him tonight.

If the Wizards want to get back to .500 tonight, Gortat has to find a way to become effective against Howard. John Wall has to utilize the pick and roll more with Gortat, which will give Washington a chance to put Howard in foul trouble. Gortat is also capable of knocking down the 12 foot jump shot, and it’s important for him to gain rhythm from that area to open the floor up for penetration. Howard is one of the best shot blocking big men in the NBA and the Wizards have to find a way to get him away from the basket.

Notes:

  • In case you forgot, the Wizards almost came back from a 20+ deficit against the Rockets in Washington earlier in the season, but still ended up losing due to James Harden’s heroics. That game was delayed multiple times because of a roof leakage.
  • Led by James Harden, Dwight Howard, and Chandler Parsons, the Rockets are the third highest scoring team in the NBA.
  • They’re also top-10 in rebounding.
  • John Wall scored just 5 points last night, and he’ll be defended by Patrick Beverly, who’s thought of as one of the best perimeter defenders in the league. Yikes.

Prediction:

A lot has to go right for the Wizards to pull of an upset tonight, and I just don’t see it happening. Their schedule gets much easier after the All-Star break, so it’s not necessarily a must win game tonight for the Wizards.

If we’ve learned anything from this season, it’s that the Wizards are one of the most inconsistent teams in the NBA. Losing to a depleted Memphis Grizzlies squad was a bit surprising, so I wouldn’t be shocked if they beat the Rockets tonight. Because Wizards.

More importantly, John Wall has to have a bounce back game sooner rather than later. Bradley Beal was outstanding last night, scoring a career high 37-points against an elite defense, but he has to worry about defending Harden more so than scoring the ball. I’m sure Wall will play better than he did last night, or against the Kings for that matter, so he should take some of the scoring load off of Beal.

The outcome of the game will probably be determined by Nene and Marcin Gortat, so I wouldn’t expect the Wizards to win. Terrence Jones and Dwight Howard have both been great this season, and they definitely outplayed Washington’s front court earlier this year.

Check out this piece on NBA shooting by the numbers from Best Tickets.

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