The Wizards (22-10) lost to the Thunder (17-17), 109-102 Friday on the road. The good news about this game is that after two days, they were able to get the nasty taste of the Dallas loss off their mouths and start anew against another top-tier Western Conference opponent.
We saw the good guys have their moments. Andre Miller, scored 13 of his season-high 15 points in the first half, during a longer-than-expected John Wall breather. He looked really good while out on the floor and got Nene involved with some nice slam dunks. It seems that the Big Brazilian has been slamming the ball more lately.
Wall himself had his 19th double-double of the season, scoring 14 points and dishing 12 assists, 10 of them in the third quarter when Washington looked like they were in control at a couple points with a couple 8-point leads, but OKC came back every time, and closed the game out later on with their franchise player (and D.C. area native) Kevin Durant, who scored 34 points in the game.
Though the Wizards committed 15 turnovers, which is more than I would like, Wall actually had a great day taking care of the ball, where he had just one turnover to those 12 assists. But that one turnover was really costly, since it happened with 28 seconds left, when Washington was down 105-102. Ouch!
Even though it's easy to point the finger at Wall for that one turnover, there were a couple other things we learned from this game which help us understand why Washington didn't come out with the W.
Washington couldn't keep or expand leads when needed
The Wizards were able to race to 8-point leads, twice in the third quarter. The first such lead happened when Washington went on an 8-0 run to start the second half and were up 63-55 after two three point shots by Pierce and Wall. Eventually, the Thunder came back to tie it up, only to see the Wizards get back to another 8-point 82-74 lead with just over a minute to go. The good news was that Wall scored five consecutive points to get them there. The bad news?
OKC went on an 8-0 run to finish the quarter, to tie the game. Leading the way in that specific run was none other than
Kevin Durant. The man delivers when you need him the most!
I know, I know, this is a cliché. But it's so true. We all know that Wall had a great third quarter scoring 10 points and dishing 3 assists with no turnovers. But Durant just happened to one-up Wall by scoring 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting in the same period. In fact, he made two consecutive three pointers to get the crowd right in it when it seemed that Wall quieted them down for awhile.
Durant continued to make some more timely shots, where he made another three point shot to break a 95-all tie with 4:33 left in the game. He then made an alley oop layup (from who else? Russell Westbrook) to make the score 104-97 with 1:42 left AND got fouled by Paul Pierce in the process. That to me seemed like the dagger moment of the game, even though Washington did make things interesting later on.
Where do the Wizards go from here?
The Wizards play the San Antonio Spurs (20-14) on Saturday. Washington played a much better game tonight than Tuesday, but they'll need an even better game all-around in order to win against the NBA's Defending Champions tomorrow.