HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 19: Bradley Beal #3 of the Washington Wizards dunks the ball during the game against the Houston Rockets on December 19, 2018 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.
Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images

Rockets' historic 3-point shooting downs Wizards, 136-118

The Wizards are still figuring it out. Adjusting to a pair of trades (adding Trevor Ariza and Sam Dekker) and key injuries (playing without Otto Porter Jr. and Dwight Howard), Washington’s rotation has been fluid at best of late. Coming off a loss in Atlanta on the second night of a back-to-back Wednesday, the Wizards struggled again in Houston, falling to a red-hot Rockets team, 136-118. Houston’s win was its fifth straight, while Washington is now just 1-6 in its last seven games.

As has often been the case this season, the Wizards didn’t struggle to score Wednesday, shooting 53.6% from the field and 33% (10-of-33) from 3-point range. Bradley Beal’s 28 points (seven assists) led the way for the Wizards, while John Wall added 18 points and 12 assists. Unfortunately, the Rockets were nearly unstoppable, scoring 101 points by the end of the third and shooting 55.3% from the field (47.3% from deep) by the end of the night. Their 26 3’s set an NBA record for the most in a single game.

“They got a lot of good isolation plays and they made tough threes," said Wizards head coach Scott Brooks. The step back threes were tough and they make them. They took 55 threes. We knew going into the game, they were going to take a lot of them. They were hot and they’ve been hot for a while now. They have a couple of hot players and there’s not much you can do when they’re making contested threes.”

When the Wizards beat the Rockets earlier this season in DC, Houston was without its floor general in Chris Paul. Paul was back in the lineup Wednesday and made a notable difference all night, scoring 21 points to go with eight assists. His backcourt running mate, James Harden, played at his usual MVP level, scoring 35 points and recording nine assists. Clint Capela (20 points and 12 rebounds) and P.J. Tucker (11 points and 11 rebounds) recorded double-doubles to help Houston outrebound Washington by 10.

"We just need the extra effort when you have a team like that," said Bradley Beal. "That’s going to shoot threes and space you out, you have to make that extra effort and help the next guy and be committed to do it.”

A fast-paced game broke out early, with Washington leading for most of the opening frame. But the Wizard’s success ran out rather quickly, as a 17-4 run early in the second quarter punctuated by 3-pointers from Paul (he hit three in the second frame) gave Houston its first double-digit lead of the night at 12. The Wizards stayed within striking distance for much of the night thanks to a lopsided 66-42 advantage in paint scoring and taking care of the ball. Newcomers Ariza and Dekker were a big help in that category, scoring 15 points apiece largely on smart cuts to the basket and good movement both with and without the ball. Jeff Green and Thomas Bryant both added 12 points.

Still, the Wizards couldn’t muster a key run to cut their deficit under 10 and put pressure on the Rockets for the entire second half. In addition to having a historic night from 3-point range, Houston took advantage of every opportunity, scoring 17 points off of just 11 Wizards turnovers and gaining a 16-6 advantage in second chance scoring. The Rockets went on to lead by as many as 26 late in the game.

“We have to figure it out," said Brooks. "We have to get better, and we have to figure things out at home, and come back and play better on the road. We haven’t played well on the road all year.”

Next, Washington will have a pair of off days before hosting Kelly Oubre Jr. and the Suns in D.C. on Saturday night. Tip-off against Phoenix is set for 7:00 P.M.

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