clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Wizards vs. Thunder final score: Westbrook, Durant pull out 105-103 overtime win

New, comments

Poor decision making late in the game do Washington over as they're unable to stave off Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in overtime.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

It took one slip-up by Bradley Beal -- one small misstep -- that led to Russell Westbrook's game winning layup in overtime on Kevin Durant's homecoming in the Phone Booth.

With 3.6 seconds remaining, and the game tied at 103, the Thunder kept it simple. They broke out of their stacked alignment with Dion Waiters cutting to the corner, Russell Westbrook darting down court, and leaving Kevin Durant to curl off a Steven Adams down-screen. It's a sideline out-of-bounds set you see run all across the league, typically countered by a defense that switches everything and forcing the opposition into a final timeout or into their second or third option.

Unfortunately for Washington, that second option would be Russell Westbrook, and he'd make them pay.

This was the story of the game tonight. The Wizards threw the kitchen sink at the Thunder's two superstars, but when it mattered most, they were having none of it. It didn't matter when Westbrook tossed in a ridiculous floater over the outstretched arms of Marcin Gortat with over 3 minutes to go to cut the Wizards lead to two in overtime. It didn't matter when Paul Pierce played textbook ball-denial defense on Kevin Durant, pushing him way over the three-point line, only to see him get bumped off his track ever so slightly by a Steven Adams screen that sprung KD free for the dagger three to put his team up two with 30 seconds to go.

That's the nature of the game, and as the adage goes, "great offense beats great defense." You hate the results, and you'll be kicking yourself for slipping up as Bradley did on the final play, but there wasn't one play that ultimately doomed them. John Wall could've slid over to deter Westbrook's drive, as could have Paul Pierce, and those little things add up in crunch time when you're facing a battle-tested team.

This one stings, just as it did a few weeks ago in OKC. The fourth quarter offense was borderline dreadful for long stretches, and once again the backcourt failed to make the right decisions when the game tightened up. There isn't many silver linings to speak of because this game could have been won with the right adjustments.

Here's three things we learned:

Washington has to figure out trapping defenses

The Thunder have Russell Westbrook (6'8" wingspan), Andre Roberson (6'11" wingspan), and a 7-footer playing the three. They play an aggressive, trapping style defense that has plagued them all year long, which was evident all throughout the third quarter. The Wizards managed 20-points in those 12 minutes thanks to a late flurry of jumpers, but still couldn't bring their shooting percentage above 40-percent.

And as expected, their 12-point lead was cut to two. OKC routinely helped off Wall, unafraid of him attacking a closeout, and they shut down almost every screen and roll by forcing the Wizards to swing the ball to the weak side.

What's so concerning about all this is they continually fell into the same trap over and over again. They kept on running the same high pick and rolls with Beal, and the same results would repeat themselves. Their only answer all throughout the game appeared to be throwing the ball into the post, which outside of the first quarter, wasn't very effective. They may not have to deal with this very often in the regular season, but come playoff time, there won't be any escaping it. The Cavs and Hawks can both emulate this style of play, and rest assured, they will use it.

Marcin Gortat isn't getting enough credit

His numbers are pedestrian and he's often having to split playing time in the second half with the much-maligned Kevin Seraphin, but that largely overshadows the work he's put in on the defensive end. He will never be the behemoth down low that frightens ball handlers in the lane, nor will he ever have the foot speed to keep up on the perimeter, but he's solid in mostly every aspect, and that's valuable.

Tonight, he had a handful of terrific plays near the rim. He had a total of three blocks, but that hardly does him justice. He bothered shooters, baited Westbrook to pull-up on some of his drives when it looked like he'd attack, and forced Durant to take floaters high off the backboard rather than layups and dunks.

We can worry about his offensive struggles at another time. Let's give him some credit.

NOTE: This was written before Kevin Durant's dunk. Carry on.

Wittman needs to open up the playbook on end-of-quarter plays

The Wizards were coming out of a timeout, had a full shot clock to work with, and on the final play of regulation, they run a 1-3 pick and roll with Wall and Pierce that quickly turns into an isolation for John.

Sounds familiar, right? Never mind the fact that Durant and Westbrook -- two long, athletic freaks -- were the one's shutting the play off by simply switching the ball screen. They have to get more movement out of these sets, and they can't be so jumpy at the first sign of trouble. I have no problem with running that specific play, but it often seems like a cheap ploy to get Wall in iso rather than a real set to throw off the defense. Some of it is on the player, but most of this is on the coach.