Washington was up 92-82 with 3:19 left in the game when Nene and Russell Westbrook were ejected due to their second technical fouls of the game. OKC went bananas afterward while Washington stagnated, scoring only four more points in regulation to Oklahoma City's 14 as the game went to overtime. From there, the Thunder jumped out to a quick lead, largely due to Kevin Durant being the best scorer on the planet, and the Wizards were never able to re-establish a rhythm. A pair of Durant free throws after a Trevor Ariza turnover put the Thunder up for good and Washington fell to 2-4 on the year.
Also, this happened at the end:
Next up for the Wizards is Dallas on Tuesday. Hopefully, they can right the ship and ensure that the end of tonight's game was just a fluke. Game notes are below.
- Beal deserves oh so much credit for this one. He scored a career high with 34 points but that's only the tip of the iceberg here. He did a phenomenal job of beating the Thunder defense by running all over the court and getting open for threes and long twos. Late in the game, when it looked like Oklahoma City was going to come back and win it in regulation, Beal hit a long two off the dribble and got to the rim for a layup on the next possession to prevent the Thunder from taking a lead. He missed a potential game winner at the end of regulation, but you can live with that as long as he looks comfortable taking the shot.
- Overtime was a back and forth affair in which the team with the better one on one scorer won. Washington was heavily reliant on ball movement to get points, and when the Thunder forced them into one on one situations, it threw them off. Wall missed a layup at the buzzer after two Durant free throws put the Thunder up by one, and that was the game.
- Nene and Westbrook were ejected due to double technicals in the fourth quarter and that probably cost Washington the game. Westbrook had been ineffective for much of the night, while Nene had been having a quietly good game. The ejection seemed to fire up the Thunder and they dominated for the rest of the night.
- Gortat was dropping the hammer like crazy in overtime. He had a couple of buckets off of post ups and spin moves and really helped the Wizards when the Thunder started to overplay Wall and Beal.
- The end of the regulation was not cool. Washington stopped playing their game and seemed more concerned with running down the clock and not losing than winning. This is the kind of thing that separates veteran teams from young ones. I'm confident that if the Wizards had continued to play the way they had in the first 44 minutes or so of the game, they would have won comfortably.
- The Wizards ball movement was very good tonight. No one seemed to force anything and everyone on the team seems to be content to rely on their teammates to get them the ball when they're in their spots.
- Wall played very good defense in the first half. Westbrook isn't a particularly efficient scorer when you take away his free throws and Wall (with help from the bigs) did an excellent job of keeping him off the free throw line. Even though Westbrook is better than all but maybe a half dozen point guards on the entire planet, he actually seems like an easier matchup for Wall than some of his inferior contemporaries due to how ineffective he is when the ball isn't in his hands. Wall's biggest problem as a defender is his tendency to ball watch and lose track of his man, so strong catch-and-shoot players like Beno Udrih and Raymond Felton seem to give him more trouble than the Westbrooks and Roses of the world.
- Beal, as is usually the case, was excellent at moving without the ball and getting open. I read somewhere, might have been in one of Jeff's links, that Beal has actually run a greater distance than anyone else in the NBA this year, and I believe it. The only time he doesn't look great is when he's trying to score when covered instead of getting open.
- Ariza had another big game. I think that Trevor is a bad offensive player when he's anything more than a fifth option, but when he's limited to spotting up and cutting to the rim and plays with people who can draw in defenses and find him for jumpers, he's really good. There might not be another player on the team who benefits more from playing with Wall, Beal, Nene and Gortat. This might not be a popular opinion and I've spoken to some smart people who think Webster should start, but I'm happy with where Ariza is in the rotation now. Hopefully Otto Porter is able to excel in a similar way once he's healthy.
- Beal had some success playing the two man game with Gortat and I want to see more of this. Both guys are adept at shooting or cutting to the basket and finishing when they can get some momentum, making it very hard for defenses to hedge one way or the other when they run screen and rolls.
- Wall hit a SICK three pointer to end the first half. He went off the dribble and faded away from about 26 feet out with Durant and Westbrook on him. That's the type of thing we're going to see over and over again in a few months any time any of us search YouTube for "john wall highlights."
- A lot of what makes Beal such a tough cover is that the skills necessary to stop him, such as the ability to run around screens and keep him from getting open, don't apply to more typical ball-dominant scorers. Guys like Sefalosha, Tony Allen, Metta World Peace, etc. tend to be really good at using their length and natural competitiveness to stay in the grill of people like Lebron and Carmelo who can overwhelm guys with their quickness and ability to shoot off the dribble. The key to covering Beal isn't to beat him up in one on one situations or anything, it's to just make sure he doesn't get away from you since 95 percent of his offense comes from hitting open jumpers. In theory that should make him easier to guard than your typical big time scorer, but the guys who usually take their team's toughest defensive assignments aren't used to playing against guys like him.
- But yeah, that was a heartbreaker. Free throws!