Nine seconds into the second quarter tonight, referee Derek Richardson was running across half court and felt water splash over his head. Richardson looked up at the Verizon Center roof and saw water streaming from above. He blew his whistle and halted the action. At a basketball game, playing indoors, the Washington Wizards and Houston Rockets had found themselves in a rain delay.
With 11:51 left in the second and the score tied at 29, a stubborn leak in the roof delayed the game for more than half an hour. Players craned their necks at the source. Fans murmured and tried to figure out what was going on. Refs sat on the scorer’s table. Somebody placed two trash cans on top of a pile of soggy towels at midcourt in front of the scorer’s table. After a while, a third trash can was brought out.
A few players wrapped ice around their shins and knees. Most of them shot around — in-game warm-ups. The Wizards mascot, G-Whiz, goofed with James Harden. Ball boys rushed around the edges of the court. There was a lot of looking up.
Rockets center Dwight Howard pulled 10-year-old Sandro Dussek from the front row, gave him a ball and crouched into a defensive stance: they were playing one-on-one. Howard allowed Dussek drive to the hoop, and then he cracked up as he swatted Dussek’s shot into the stands.
Dussek, a point guard on his team in McLean, had been coming to Wizards game for four years. Now, the kid with shaggy blond hair and a John Wall t-shirt had a new highlight.
Sandro was asked a few minutes after playing Howard, What was it like?
“Fun!” he said.
What about when Howard blocked your shot?
Sandro was still a little speechless.
As he took his seat next to his father near the Rockets bench, players assumed their positions, the trash cans and towels were put away and the game re-started with the Wizards and Rockets tied at 29. The Wizards had only a little bit better luck than Dussek against Howard. The Rockets promptly pulled ahead with a 30-13 run.