Houston Rockets guard Jalen Green enjoyed a second consecutive home game of rampaging an opposing defense, torching the Minnesota Timberwolves for a career-high 42 points on Monday.
Green will look to build on that effort when the Rockets play host to the Washington Wizards on Wednesday.
Against Minnesota, Green shot 15 of 25 and made six of his 2 3-point attempts. That followed a 16-for-24 shooting display against the Charlotte Hornets on Jan. 18 when Green matched his previous career high of 41 points. Fits and spurts have defined this season for Green, the second overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. But when he excels, the potential is blinding.
“Again, 20 years old,” Rockets coach Stephen Silas said of Green, whose 21st birthday is Feb. 9. “We shouldn’t expect him to be 100 percent polished. He’s just coming along.”
The Rockets snapped a 13-game losing skid on Monday behind Green, who added four rebounds and four assists to his ledger. As noteworthy as his individual brilliance was the cohesion he shared with second-year center Alperen Sengun, who continued his recent uptick with 21 points (on 8-of-12 shooting), seven rebounds and seven assists.
Rockets point guard Kevin Porter Jr. missed his sixth consecutive game with a foot injury on Monday. During that stretch, Sengun is averaging 21 points (on 69.3 percent shooting), 10.7 rebounds and 6.5 assists with increased offensive orchestration duties.
Without Porter, who averages 19.2 points and 5.6 assists, siphoning shots, Green is averaging 28.6 points (on 49.5 percent shooting) and 3.6 assists.
As Houston continues to trudge along in its protracted rebuild, questions continue to arise over which players should set the foundation for the future. While the sample size is small, the simultaneous growth Green and Sengun is creating optimism.
“They’ve had a connection most of the season,” Silas said of Green and Sengun. “They’ve done a good job. Yeah, those two 20-year-olds are finding their way.”
The Wizards opened a five-game road trip with a 127-126 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday, doing so without Kristaps Porzingis, who is week-to-week because of a sprained left ankle.
Washington won a third consecutive game despite missing its second-leading scorer, Porzingis, and trading its fourth-leading scorer, Rui Hachimura, to the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday.
Without Porzingis and Hachimura, the Wizards had to dig a bit deeper into their bench.
Reserve forward Deni Avdija, who stands to benefit the most with Hachimura in Los Angeles, posted a double-double (15 points and 10 rebounds) while adding three assists and three steals in 32 minutes on Tuesday. The Wizards went small on occasion with Porzingis unavailable, and they were able to generate timely defensive pressure down the stretch against the Mavericks.
For one night, the Wizards unlocked a winning formula, with Delon Wright’s steal in the final second sealing the victory over Dallas. The goal is to do so again in Houston.
“We’ve got a long road trip ahead,” Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr. said, “but it could be a catalyst for something. To be a little short-handed, to be able to compete on the road, an area in which we’ve struggled at times, to be able to come away with one is terrific.”