You wouldn’t have guessed this game would be a shootout based on how both teams started. Washington’s offensive struggles from their loss to Dallas carried over to the first half of Thursday’s game, as they scored only 40 points. The effort was there, but the Thunder’s fifth-ranked defense made everything difficult. They were contesting shots, disrupting passing lanes, and controlling the glass to keep Washington from getting second-chance opportunities.
Beal finally got things going for Washington when he made a pair of three-pointers early in the third quarter. Once he got going, it took less than eight minutes for Washington to tie the game after starting the half down by 14.
From that point on, it turned into a wild shootout as the two teams combined to score 139 points in the second half. Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook led the scoring charge, but John Wall, Carmelo Anthony, Markieff Morris, and Terrance Ferguson got in on the fun as well as both teams made impressive shots throughout the quarter.
It was a fairly even battle throughout the fourth, but the Thunder’s ability to protect the ball better throughout the night proved to be the difference. Washington committed 23 turnovers on the night which led to 36 points for Oklahoma City. The Thunder only committed 14 turnovers which led to just 15 points for the Wizards.
Bradley Beal was terrific
Beal has taken a lot of blame for his struggles late in games this season, so it’s only fair to recognize how well he played in the fourth quarter of this game. He had 18 points on 9 shots in the fourth quarter as well as 4 rebounds and 3 assists. He was quick and decisive about how to attack Oklahoma City’s defense, even when he had defenders draped all over him.
Even though the end result didn’t go Washington’s way, that’s exactly the way he and Washington should be operating offensively in late game situations. It was a beautiful sight to see on that end.
Leading by example
“When I have a great defensive game, everyone else follows my lead, when I have a bad one, we tend to lose those games, so the key for me as a leader is to be better on both ends of the floor, but most importantly on the defensive end and to be more engaged.”
On Thursday, this happened:
So did this:
The Thunder scored 121 points and shot 51.7 percent from the field.
- Scott Brooks trotted out an unusual lineup in the second quarter: Tomas Satoransky, Kelly Oubre, Otto Porter, Mike Scott, and Jason Smith. It’s interesting because it’s probably the most switchable defensive lineup they can throw out there, but there just isn’t enough shot creation on that unit to make it viable against good defenses.
- Marcin Gortat had a rough night. He had more fouls (5) and turnovers (3) than rebounds (1) in 20 minutes of action. It’s the first time Gortat has been held to one rebound since December 9, 2010 when he only played five minutes off the bench as a reserve with the Magic.
- Markieff Morris had a nice offensive outburst tonight, scoring 20 points on just 9 shots. However, it was a different story on the defensive end. Washington went small to close the game after ineffective performances by Marcin Gortat and Ian Mahinmi. While Morris was at least able to stay out of foul trouble, he just didn’t provide enough deterrent as rim protector to keep Russell Westbrook out of the paint where he could get buckets or kick out to get others easy shots. Washington really needs another option who can play the five and hold up defensively late in games.
- Charles Barkley had some harsh words for Washington after the team struggled to score just 40 points in the first half.
"This Wizards team... seriously, they stink." - Chuck pic.twitter.com/PnjCuHZEf4— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) January 26, 2018
- John Wall didn’t have a great defensive game, but this block on Paul George was pretty fun.
Next up: The Wizards finish off their road trip on Saturday as they face Atlanta at 7:30 p.m.