The Rockets won an ugly matinee game in the District, beating the Wizards 99-91 behind James Harden's 24 points.
Despite the "mediocre" game from Harden, Houston was able to manufacture several impressive offensive runs thanks to big performances from the supporting cast.
Josh Smith started the game by scoring 12 of Houston first 15 points and the second half was basically the Pablo Prigioni show. Prigioni finished the game with 10 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals. He may be 38, but Petey Pablo balled out with the youthful exuberance of a 25 year old.
Corey Brewer was maybe the most impressive two-way player of the night, scoring 15 points of his own and grabbing 5 rebounds to go with his 2 assists, 2 steals and single block. He posted the highest +/- of the night, finishing the game with a +14.
Dwight Howard continued his comeback campaign, grabbing 10 rebounds and scoring 11 points in his meager 19 minutes on the floor.
The defense came in spurts but regardless; Washington's John Wall was still able to post an impressive 25 points and managed to dish out 12 assists.
Yes, there were definitely some notable performances but this amalgamation of numbers and data can't give you an accurate understanding of what watching this game was like.
This game was like watching your grandparents try to navigate Gmail or looking on as your dog, helpless without the aid of opposable thumbs, can't quite open the bag of treats he's pawing at, even though he knows they're definitely inside.
This game was like watching Thursday night football.
The Rockets turned the ball over 19 times, only slightly worse than the Wizards' 17. If you average both teams' field goal percentages, you'd come out somewhere around 40%. The teams shot a collective 70(70!) free throws. It was slow, and plodding and gritty.
In a way, this is exactly what the Rockets needed. Come playoff time, offense is going to be tougher to find, teams are going to lock down and pressure the ball handler, they're going to play tougher and more physically, and most importantly the Rockets themselves are going to have to carry a defensive mindset.
This game saw the Rockets' lead shrink and then widen and then shrink again. Battling out of tough situations is what wins playoff games. Not having Patrick Beverley, Terrence Jones, Donatas Motiejunas or Kostas Papanikolaou hurts, sure. But injuries happen and you have to deal with those too. The Wizards aren't a terrible team, and they have guys that can hurt you if you let up.
That's why this win matters, ugly or not.