Scott Brooks figured out to slow down his former pupil, Russell Westbrook, but it wasn’t enough to help the Wizards pull out a win against his old team, as Washington fell 126-115 in overtime.
The Wizards had a 99-92 lead with 3:10 left in regulation, but they couldn’t get the stops they needed down to the stretch to avoid the extra frame. The Thunder hit threes on each of the next two possessions, then Oladipo got a transition dunk off a Bradley Beal turnover, Westbrook made a layup on the possession after that. Then, with 8.5 seconds left, Westbrook hit a stepback three to force overtime.
In the extra frame, it was all Westbrook, who singlehandedly outscored the Wizards 14-10 to help the Thunder pull away and remove any doubt.
The Wizards’ poor performance over the final three minutes of regulation and in overtime ruined what had been a strong defensive performance against one of the best players in the league. Until the final 8 minutes of the game, Westbrook had only scored 16 points on 26 shots, only earned four free throws, and had been a -14.
The loss drops Washington to 6-11 on the season and 0-8 all-time at Chesapeake Energy Arena. On Friday, they’ll head to the AT&T Center, another arena the Wizards have never won a game, to take on Kawhi Leonard and the Spurs.
Here’s what else we noticed:
Oubre is starting to turn things around
Kelly Oubre followed up a career night against the Kings on Monday with another solid outing against the Thunder. He was 4-6 from the field including 2-3 from deep. More importantly, he made some big plays on the defensive end, forcing steals and disrupting passing lanes. He was a +5, the best plus/minus of anyone on the team.
His strong play led Brooks to leave him in to help close out the game as the Wizards went small with a Oubre-Porter-Morris frontline. That decision may have proved to be the Wizards’ undoing, as it gave Westbrook more driving lanes and rebounding opportunities, but if nothing else, it was good to see him get some more experience in those situations that he can hopefully learn from as he develops.
After a very shaky start to the season, Oubre has started to come around. It’s still too early to say if this a true step forward or just a random blip, but hopefully it’s enough to help Oubre solidify his place in Brooks’ rotation moving forward. Even if this isn’t sustainable, his ability to have nights like this is more than just about anyone else on the bench can offer.
The Wizards have a technical problem
Washington has picked up at least one technical foul in each of the last five games. The most recent tech came in even more unusual fashion than normal, as Markieff Morris was T’d up for something he did while sitting on the bench. In a game that wound up going to overtime, you can’t help but think about how things would have been different if Markieff Morris had simply not said or done whatever he did to essentially give the Thunder a free point.
Technical fouls are always going to be part of the package with Markieff Morris, and to a certain extent that’s worth it if it means Morris stays fully engaged on both ends. That said, Brooks and the rest of the team have to figure out a way to cut back on giving up free points to the opposition if they’re going to turn things around. The start of the season has been frustrating, but letting that frustration out in front of the refs isn’t going to make things better.
Give Jason Smith some respect
Look, I know Jason Smith has gotten off to a rough start as a Washington Wizard, but that’s no reason to refuse the man some dap.