Dual ankle injuries weren't what the Houston Rockets had in mind when they were trying to get guards James Harden and Jeremy Lin to mesh together in a new-look backcourt.
The Rockets hope to have both on the floor Wednesday night when they host a Washington Wizards club coming off its first road victory of the season.
Harden gutted through the pain of a right ankle ailment suffered last Saturday to finish out that meeting with Dallas, but was unable to play in Monday's 134-126 overtime setback to the San Antonio Spurs. Lin stepped up in that game and tied a career high with 38 points, hitting on four 3-pointers, all 12 of his free throw attempts and dishing out seven assists.
Despite Lin's efforts and Houston hitting on 16-of-30 shots from behind the arc, the Rockets dropped a season-high third game in a row for the third time this season.
"It's tough obviously," Lin said. "I am thankful that I was able to kind of get comfortable out there, but that's definitely secondary to the fact that we blew another close game. I had the ball to win it and didn't get a shot up and so this one definitely hurts."
The good news for Houston was that Harden was able to practice on Tuesday and coach Kevin McHale said the guard moved around the floor well. However, Lin hurt his ankle in the same practice and his status for this game is unknown.
That could deny Harden and Lin another game to get comfortable together.
"We've got to find ways of making sure we get (both guys involved)," McHale said after Monday's setback, which came in the second contest of a four-game homestand.
The Wizards should have some extra confidence heading into this meeting after winning for the first time in nine road games this season. Though Washington shot just 32.9 percent from the floor, it was able to get enough to defeat the New Orleans Hornets 77-70 on Tuesday night.
Normally a shooting guard off the bench, Jordan Crawford got the start at the point and netted 12 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter. He shot 9-of-24 from the floor and had just four assists in place of A.J. Price, who is out after breaking his right hand in a loss to Golden State on Saturday.
Price, of course, was manning the point because John Wall has yet to play this season due to a knee injury.
"How we have to get going at the start of games and everybody clutching the ball, the movement and stuff, he second guessed a little bit, but I knew that was going to happen," said head coach Randy Wittman of Crawford. "That's something that will come along, but I thought he came down the stretch and really made some big shots."
Bradley Beal netted 15 points and Nene chipped in 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Wizards, who held the Hornets to 28 second-half points to overcome a double-digit deficit. They have split their last six games following an 0-12 start.
"We just kept our heads in (the game). We kept fighting and kept it close. I thought that was the key. Going into halftime, our guys felt good," noted Wittman.
Washington, aiming to win consecutive games for the first time this season, has lost three consecutive meetings with the Rockets and 12 of the past 14 encounters overall. It has also lost three straight and nine of its past 10 in Houston.