PREVIEW: Wizards at Rockets- Jan. 25

Jan 3, 2023; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal (3) passes in the second quarter during game against the Milwaukee Bucks at Fiserv Forum. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

PREVIEW: Wizards at Rockets- Jan. 25

The Rockets will try to win back-to-back games for the first time in six weeks when they host the Washington Wizards in the second game of a three-game homestand. The Rockets ended their 13-game losing streak with Monday’s 119-114 win over the Wolves, and they could get Jabari Smith Jr., who is questionable after missing the last two games with a sprained right ankle, back for Wednesday night’s game.

Eye on the Wiazrds

Record: 21-26 (11th in Eastern Conference)

Offensive rating (rank): 112.8 (19th)

Defensive rating (rank): 113.6 (18th)

The Wizards will walk into Toyota Center on Wednesday night, winners of three in a row after a 127-126 win in Dallas on Tuesday. Under second-year head coach Wes Unseld Jr., Washington is 10-6 since losing 10 in a row in December. Bradley Beal is averaging just 22.5 points per game this season, and he’s missed 21 games. Kristaps Porzingis is Washington’s second-leading scorer at 22.1 points, but he’ll miss Wednesday’s game with a sprained left ankle. Free agent-to-be Kyle Kuzma has seen his scoring average jump almost five points to 21.8 points per game.

Matchup to watch: Jalen Green vs. Bradley Beal

Green has gone for 40 points twice in his last three games, including Monday’s career-high 42-point night against the Wolves, while Beal, who is in the first season of a five-year, $251 million contract, has had his worst season since 2016. Beal is shooting well, but the volume hasn’t been there because the 33.2 minutes he’s playing this season is his fewest since that same 2016 season. The three-time All-Star has missed 21-of-47 games this season due to COVID, a thigh injury, and a hamstring strain.

What I’m watching for

No team commits more turnovers than the Rockets, but only one team forces fewer turnovers than the Wizards, so something has to give. The Rockets will be without Kevin Porter Jr. for a seventh straight game, and their turnover rate has shot up to 17.7% in the six games he has missed, which includes four games with 20 or more giveaways. Porter walked out of practice with a pretty noticeable limp on Tuesday, so he doesn’t appear to be particularly close to returning. The Rockets will have to find a way to run an offense without giving the ball to the opposition 20 times per night. They simply aren’t good enough to get away with it.

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