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Game Notebook 46, Wizards at Thunder: Wiz Suffocate In OKC

Thunder 114
Wizards 98

February 1, 2016 – Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

NBA Stats Box Score

Let’s cut to the chase. The Wizards are in many ways untalented. Their opponent last night, the OKC Thunder, are in many ways not. And when such teams are matched up against one another, it’s obvious that for the lesser talented squad the window for error is double-paned, barred up, and bolted shut. The room temperature is a bitter sub-60 degrees and the only climate control is the heat generated on the floor. So how did the Wizards survive this ordeal? They didn’t. Instead, they suffocated to the tune of many errors, including the inability to rebound, being outscored 18-2 in 2nd chance points, and surrendering 16 points off turnovers. The room temperature dropped with every missed 3 (there were 19 of them). By game’s end, the Wizards were left numb from the cold and in pain from 150 minutes of torture at the hands of Oklahoma City’s triple-headed colossus; their bodies impounded and returned to DC. Here’s how:

Half-assin’ on the hustle

More like NO-assin’ on the hustle. The Wizards were outrebounded 39-25 by the Thunder, a clear testament to their general lack of energy and will to be physical underneath. On several possessions, there wasn’t a single Wizard within even six or seven feet of the rim to contest the boards! Other times the Thunder were just in the right place to grab long rebounds. But the Wizards got out-hustled in practically every hustle category – rebounds; 2nd chance points; even fast break points where they usually dominate but got outscored 12-14 last night. Part of being this lackadaisical can be attributed to the overwhelming presence of a star-studded opponent such as the Thunder, who are simply unrelenting in their attack. Part of this is me just making fucking excuses for the Wizards.

Kevin Durant

Now that the #KD2DC hoopla is all but diminished, Kevin Durant can finally stick it to the Wizards like an asshole basically telling us “you can never have this.” Peep the analogizing tweet in all it’s wit:

Durant piled it on the Wizards, abusing Otto Porter while taking advantage of the Wizards’ refusal to send help or double-team. He was a walking mismatch anywhere he was on the floor. He finished with 28 points on 9-18 shooting, 9 rebounds, and 4 assists.

John Wall vs. Russell Westbrook

This was intended to be a keynote matchup of point guards, and a very important one between two All-Stars. Instead it was embarrassingly lopsided. Sure, the stat sheet will tell you that they each scored 17 points and shot decently from the field. They had almost the same amount of turnovers as well. Russ obviously got the triple-double. But what the stat sheet won’t explain is how Westbrook scored all 17 of his points with Wall on the floor and 8 points deliberately one-on-one against Wall. Contrarily, Wall scored just 8 of his 17 points when Russell was on the floor but none of them were one-one-one against Westbrook.

Not sure what was bugging Wall last night. You’d imagine this was a game where he’d make a strong presence on the defensive end but that was hardly the case. Westbrook set the tone against Wall early, posting him up with ease on three consecutive possessions in the 1st quarter. Later, he spun on Wall out of the post for a nice dish to Ibaka. Then Wall flat out went in standstill mode as Westbrook pranced right past him on a fast break play. Not quite the way you want to gear up for Steph Curry tomorrow night.

The Game’s Top Performer

Bradley Beal

Low-key Bradley Beal is a godsend off the bench. The Wizards’ second unit absolutely flat-lined last night and the presence of Beal on the floor was the only source of resuscitation. Again on a minutes limit, Beal took advantage of his restricted time by taking 15 shots in 25 minutes, and making just about half of them. He scored 18 of the Wizards’ 33 bench points and continued to show his evolvement as a creator on offense.

A forgettable night for..

John Wall

Honestly, I hate to bring it back to our #WallStar. Let’s not get it twisted, he played well. But he was barely a match against Westbrook, and his Wizards were barely a match overall against Westbrook’s Thunder. Wall is forced to play in a lineup comprised of Drew Gooden, Ramon Sessions, and Garrett Temple. His adversary Westbrook conveniently plays alongside Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka, and an annoyingly productive Dion Waiters. So naturally, the pressure on Wall to perform at a tip-top level outweighs the pressure on Westbrook, and by a landslide. Also, Westbrook is just a better all-around player. So what we began to notice is Wall getting neutralized and disappearing for stretches of the game while Russ, KD & Co. continued to carve up the Wizards defense. Not a good night at all for John, and seemingly won’t get better against Steph tomorrow night.

So what’s next?

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