I'm not all that good at picking momentum-changing moments, but I do know that when play like this happens, odds are that team is going to win. Sometimes, you just have games where it just doesn't come together and tonight was one of those nights. There are a lot of places blame can be assigned for last night's blowout, as you'll see below, but let's hope that no one dwells on last night for too long. It's a long season and there's another game tonight. The best thing that everyone can do is forget about what went wrong last night and gear up for a big game against the Spurs (see how I didn't say anything about you-know-who there? I'm getting better!).
The Wizards had no answer for Durant. The former Montrose Christian star poured in 35 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists. He wasn’t alone; fellow Prince Georges County product Jeff Green had a double double by half time and Westbrook scored 26 points on only 12 shots. Most of Westbrook’s’ damage came from the lane (which he got into at will) leading to 12 free throw attempts and seven assists. Jamison, Butler and Arenas combined to score 69 of the Wizards 108 points but it simply wasn’t enough.
The Wizards (3-8) started off slow - falling behind by 10 in the first five minutes - responded with a spurt that put them back in the game, but went cold again and slipped into a double-digit hole. The roller-coaster ride continued throughout the game, and finally after pulling within 82-81 with three minutes left in the third quarter, Washington allowed Oklahoma City to outscore it 45-27 in the final 15 minutes of play.
Saunders said that every time his coaching staff focuses on one weakness, the team forgets everything else that it has learned. After training camp, the team focused on rebounding and became a better rebounding team. They focused on defense and became a better defensive team through the first 10 games. But the past few practices, the Wizards tried to address their offensive woes, then decided not to play defense against the young and exciting Thunder. So much for that carryover from the big win against the Cavaliers. "We focused on offense and we forgot all of our defensive concepts," Saunders said. "We have not evolved to be a total team, where we can grasp everything."
After watching Washington answer every Thunder run for the better part of three quarters, Brooks changed the game when he went with a three-guard lineup. Oklahoma City immediately went on a 9-0 burst to stretch its lead to 91-81 on Durant’s three-point play. Then Brooks went even smaller, going without a center and leaving the 6-foot-9 Green as his tallest player on the court. The move worked, as Oklahoma City continued to pull away.
Said Arenas: "We let them kept getting middle. Our defensive philosophy is don't let a team get middle because once they get middle, they put pressure on the bigs, and then the guards have to suck in, and then you have wide-open 3-pointers, so mentally we just shut down today and they just took advantage of it." OKC is a young team, but they played like the experienced bunch. And tip your hat to coach Scott Brooks. Whenever the Wizards would cut the score to within striking distance, he'd call timeout and his guys would come out and execute. And it wasn't just one play, they came out and reeled off scoring runs. That's a mark of a coach who is getting through to his players. "Every time they came out of a timeout, they went on a 6-0 run. They just scored. They came out of the timeup only up one and they went up," Arenas said.
Miller returned to the game in the second quarter but was wincing as he kept his left arm bent near his waist and pressed against his body. He finished with five points, but said he would continue to play through the pain. "It's one of those things that's going to keep lingering and hopefully, it's going to go away sooner than later," Miller said. "Right now, its something that I got to deal with. The doctors said there isn't a chance for it to get worse structurally so it's going be really painful. Right now, I can bear it, so I'm going to play. It's not an excuse."
Washington simply couldn't match OKC's offensive explosiveness, but the 20 turnovers didn't help. Even Mike Miller coughed the ball up three times. Again limited by his shoulder, he took only four shots and finished with five points. Randy Foye was also a goat, with one point, one assist and two turnovers in 11 and a half minutes. He's still not sharp coming off the ankle injury. But Miller is the bigger concern. Until he plays a game without looking like a one-armed man, it's time to start questioning whether he should be playing at all.
Always looking for ways to get more out of his players, Wizards coach Flip Saunders canceled the morning shootaround for the second straight game to allow his team to get extra rest. Instead of the traditional midmorning shootaround, the coach held a 3 p.m. planning meeting with his players at the team hotel before they headed over to Ford Center. Portland, New York and Boston have made similar moves this season to keep their players fresher.
What exactly is Boykins's role? Is he the backup point guard? I guess he is, and for the most part, I don't have a problem with that. Boykins played the entire fourth quarter and took all seven of his shots then (making five), scoring 11 points. But when Boykins is in the game, he has the ball a ton and dribbles a lot, which means Arenas doesn't have the ball. At least for right now, I'm not a huge fan of the Boykins-Arenas backcourt.
Grant Long said it well tonight when he was talking about the Wiz when he said something along the lines of the Wiz having all the talent a team could want, but for whatever the reason the pieces don’t seem to fit. I see his point. I personally think the Wizards problem is defense, or a lack of it to be more specific. The Wiz matchup very well with the Thunder at every position but their supposed "stopper" is Deshawn Stevenson who only saw 12 minutes of play.
Twitter / Mike Jones
I really don't get why Mike Miller is being allowed to play. Arm is hanging like it weighs 100 pounds.
Twitter / Michael Lee
I know Caron has had to guard LeBron, D-Wade & others, but Durant might the toughest cover of them all. Dude is at least 6-11 – not 6-9!
Twitter / Rashad Mobley
Nick Young to Flip at halftime: "Coach I have TWO shoulders..put me in..put.me.in.
Twitter / Chris C-Ford
The Thunder makes the "Which NBA teams don't end in 'S'?" A little bit harder
Twitter / wizznutzz
unless Harden has John Adams tattoed on his apple, Dsean win RT @MikeJonesTWT DeShawn and James Harden in the battle of the beards.
Twitter / Truth_About_It
I think the agility in Jamison's arms on offense compensates for the lack of agility in his legs on defense.
Twitter / Chase Hughes
What happened to Andray Blatche, he had 2 points tonight? 127-108 final
Twitter / Agent Dagger
the big 3 all have 20 points, when was the last time that happened?
Twitter / George V. Panagakos
Since Boykins joined Wizards, Washington hasn't played a single game without scoring at least 100 points. Miller and Jamison of course :).
Twitter / Wizards Extreme
30 win season if the Wiz kids can't get it together, another mediocre performance tonight
Twitter / Kevin Durant
Good win against the hometown wizards...Gilbert is back!!! Back to work tomorrow!!! What's good tweeps