Houston got off to one of its slowest starts of the season. Corey Brewer got the start over an injured Patrick Beverley, who missed his second straight game with a wrist ailment. Houston was not a good matchup for Washington given that there was not a pure point guard to defend Wall. Brewer and Eric Gordon gave it a try, but Wall was able to dominate the first half. He ended the game with 18 points and 12 assists.
It was also very difficult to play the Wizards without a true rim protector. Had Capela and Beverley played this game, this would have been an easy win, but the Wizards exploited those mismatches and got out to a 15-point lead to end the first quarter. On top of exposing the Rockets’ weak spots, the Wizards played good perimeter defense and the Rockets were held to only 41 points in the first half.
However, Houston was able to make the adjustments necessary to crack the Wizards’ spell. A big part of that was giving Eric Gordon the ball. Gordon had a season-high 31 points and made 6-of-12 from the great beyond. The Rockets were able to cut into the Wizards lead, but what really got them over the hump was when Nene entered the game in the middle of the third. Nene came up big against his former team, with 9 big points and invaluable defense and energy that won’t be seen in the box score.
Other noteworthy stats are Harden’s 23 points, 10 boards and 10 assists, quietly earning his third straight triple-double, and Montrezl Harrell’s 14 points. Bradley Beal also had a Wizards-high 27 points and Washington had their three-game win streak snapped.
The big takeaway from this game is that the Rockets are capable of making the right in-game adjustments. In the first half, the team looked absolutely lethargic and the tempo was not where it needed to be. The team was playing the Wizards’ brand of gross, Eastern Conference basketball and not the Rockets’.
But Houston was able to turn the game in its favor. It’s very difficult to do that in the NBA, but this team can. Resilient teams do just that, and that is one of the best words to describe this team. This season just gets more and more exciting with each game, and it’s the greatest show in town at this point.
The show gets even better on Thursday when Harden’s old pal Russell Westbrook and the Thunder come into Toyota Center. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. CT.