As the Nationals battled for the World Series crown last night in Houston, each city’s basketball counterpart took to the floor in Washington D.C., where the Wizards came up just short in a record-filled home opener.
Despite a monumental statline of 46 points, 6 rebounds and 8 assists from Bradley Beal, opening night in the District was spoiled by Houston’s overwhelming offense. James Harden’s 59 point performance and a Russell Westbrook triple-double fueled the Rockets en route to their 159-158 victory over the Wizards.
The game’s blistering pace and lights out shooting by both teams resulted in a 77-76 halftime lead for the Wizards, with Bradley Beal providing a buzzer-beating layup before the teams headed to the locker room.
The teams continued to trade blows in the second half, and Washington led by as many as 12 with less than 11 minutes to go in the fourth quarter. Like superstars of their caliber do, James Harden and Russell Westbrook got buckets down the stretch to erase the lead and help the Rockets secure the victory. Harden broke the deadlock by drawing a foul with 2.4 seconds remaining and hitting one of two free throws.
The Wizards hit a franchise record 20 threes and finished just three points short of the franchise record for points scored in a game, set by the Bullets in 1990. However, the team also joins the 1990-1991 Denver Nuggets as the only other team to score 158 points in regulation and still lose.
Moral victories are not reflected in the win-loss column, and Bradley Beal recently expressed his displeasure for them, but the Wizards displayed quite a few reasons why fans should be excited about this roster moving forward.
“Each and every time we come into the locker room –I always say I hate moral victories–but it’s always a good feeling knowing that when we lose it’s always just one or two things we can just fix. It’s never, ‘Damn, we didn’t play hard tonight.’ That’s the worst thing as an athlete. It doesn’t take skill, it doesn’t take technique. Playing hard is passion, energy and being locked in. We always have that. I think the biggest thing is we have guys competing for minutes, for time. Coach is searching. It’s been working well for us.” said Wizards guard Bradley Beal when asked about the locker room this year.
In his fourth professional game, Rui Hachimura produced another standout showing, with 23 points on 9-for-15 shooting. His shooting repertoire continues to impress, as he went 3-for-3 from beyond the arc and showcased effective fadeaway, mid-range jumpers throughout the night.
Thomas Bryant also complemented the starters with an impactful statline of 13 points, 12 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 blocks.
The bench added 64 points, led by Davis Bertans, who netted 21 points and 6 threes. Isaiah Thomas and Troy Brown Jr. added 17 points and 14 points respectively.
Although the Wizards now fall to 1-3 to start the season, the team is displaying encouraging performances against difficult opponents and could cause more trouble than expected for the rest of the Eastern Conference.
The team looks to secure its first home victory on Saturday against Karl Anthony-Towns and the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves (3-1).