HoustonThe Wizards are trying to create an identity as an aggressive defensive team that plays an up-tempo style of basketball. A 103-76 loss to the Houston Rockets served as a reminder that it is a work in progress for the Wizards who gave up 41 points on a season-high 24 turnovers.
Minus their leading scorer Kevin Martin because of plantar fasciitis, the Rockets still enjoyed their largest margin of victory this season. Chase Budinger came off the bench to lead the Rockets with a game-high 21 points. Luis Scola was a match-up challenge and scored 10 of his 19 points in the third quarter.
John Wall and Nick Young were the only Wizards to reach double figures. Wall scored a team-high 17 points and had 8 assists with 5 turnovers. Young added 17 points. Jan Vesely received his first career start over Andray Blatche in what Randy Wittman said was a coachs decision and not related to any injury.
Vesely was part of an encouraging start for the Wizards. In the first quarter Versely had 5 points and 6 rebounds to go with 2 steals. Blatche also had 2 steals in the first quarter and the Wizards as a team had several deflections on defense to disrupt the Rockets into a season-low 17 points on 23 percent shooting from the field in the first quarter.
The Wizards carried a 21-17 lead into the second quarter when turnovers started to put the Wizards off course. The Rockets scored 9 points off 6 second quarter turnovers by the Wizards and grabbed a 44-41 lead at half time.
Then less than two minutes into the third quarter a Rashard Lewis steal led to a JaVale McGee alley-oop dunk from Wall to give the Wizards a 45-44 lead.
In the second half we were close, and then turned the ball over consistently, they got way too many points off of our turnovers, said Wall. We gave them (Rockets) too many easy shots and we let (Luis) Scola do whatever he wanted.
The Rockets called a time-out after the McGee dunk and then it all started to unravel for the Wizards. In the first-half the Wizards had a 17-4 advantage in fast break points, but now in the third quarter the Rockets showed they too could get out in transition. The Rockets were helped by the Wizards with 9 turnovers that led to 18 of the Rockets 34 points in the third quarter.
They (the Rockets) turned up their pressure, we were trying to throw cross-court passes, and you cant even get away with that in high school, Wittman noted. We want to be up-tempo, we're athletic and we want to run, but you have to take care of the ball. Houston had something to do with that.