November 11, 2015 – Verizon Center, Washington, DC
The rain started falling in DC in the morning, but the Thunder struck at 7 pm. And unlike our typical 15-20 minute thunderstorms, this one lasted a full 2.5 hours and featured multiple spells of torrential downpours and throw downs from the deadly storm clouds known as Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Serge Ibaka. And unfortunately for the Wizards, the only dry spells came on their offensive end.
The Wizards entered the game ranked 2nd in the NBA in pace, with the Thunder a not too distant 8th, so an up and down game was expected all night long. But instead of a fast paced competitive game, it was all up for OKC, and all down for DC.
Gary Neal scored 6 of the Wizards first 8, and John Wall had this steal and slam to keep things close early.
But Durant had no intention of letting anyone rain on his homecoming parade, responding immediately with a dunk and back to back threes.
Not to be outdone, Durant’s co-star Russell Westbrook found himself playing Best Supporting Actor early, dishing out 6 first quarter assists. In the mean-time, John Wall did his best impersonation of “Bad Russ,” shooting 2/8 in the first quarter. Even coincidence was on the Thunder’s side, as the quarter ended with OKC’s number 3 (Dion Waiters) converting a 3 point play with 3.3 seconds left, and leaving the Wizards fans missing a number 3 of their own.
The second quarter brought more of the same, as the Thunder rained down threes on the Wizards, finishing the half shooting 8/9 from three, and 23/43 overall. Serge Ibaka (yes, the Thunder power forward Serge Ibaka) shot 2/2 from 3 himself, and missed only one first half shot. The quiet in the eye of the storm? That was the sound of the Wizards shooting 19/54, with only a lack of turnovers (just 2 in the half) keeping them in any kind of striking distance.
But the next devastating strike would come from the Southwest, in the form of Hurricane Russ, raining threes, tearing down rims, and leaving behind a desolate wasteland of broken spirit and DC rubble in his path.
Even without Durant, who was ruled out at halftime with a hamstring injury, the Thunder ended the third with a 26 point lead . Westbrook ended the third (and his night) with a triple double: 22 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists. Just another day at the office.
The fourth was inconsequential, as the starters sat, leaving the FEMA line-up to clean up the wreckage of an eventual 125-101 loss.
So where did things go wrong? Well, not turnovers. The Wizards committed only 8 for the game, and most of those came when the game was already over. Tonight was the result of a devastating cold spell on the offensive end, where the Wizards finished 38/97, allowing OKC chance after chance to push the tempo off missed shots and get open looks in transition and semi-transition. Shooting 39% won’t beat anyone, and certainly not a team with the offensive firepower of the Thunder. Westbrook’s annihilation was accompanied by Serge Ibaka’s 23, Dion Waiter’s 25, and even 14-10-4 from KD in one half of work.
The only thing left to do now is pick-up the pieces, regroup, and rebuild.
#WizThunder in a tweet..
Wizards recap. pic.twitter.com/oF9cxyobrt
— Wookiee Of The Year (@WookieeOTY) November 11, 2015
The Game’s Top Performers:
Gary Neal and Otto Porter
There was plenty not to like, even from these two, but on a night when scoring and aggression was desperately needed, these two came the closest to providing it. Neal scored 6 of the Wizards first 8 points, and finished with 10 to help keep the Wizards competitive, albeit temporarily. The same goes for Otto, who attacked hard, scoring 12 of his 14 in the first half.
Of course, in a loss like that, even the silver lining is rusty, as Gary and Otto combined to shoot 0/7 from 3 point range, to help contribute to their team total of 5/24 (21%) over all…All Pace, No Space.
A forgettable night for..
On a night when the Wizards needed John Wall to provide a superstar storm of his own to help make-up for Beal’s absence, he provided a puddle. Wall finished the game with just 9 points on 4/13 shooting, and 5 assists.
To add insult to impotence, his counterpart put up 22-11-11 in just 28 minutes, and took this round in their head-to-head point guard battle with at least a 10-8 round.
Kelly Oubre Jr:
Kelly Oubre got some meaningful minutes, and made the most of it. He hit two threes from the left wing with confidence, and had a nice hammer in transition. He finished with a career high 11 points, providing the faintest ray of light in an otherwise stormy night.
Gortat was fairly active again offensively, a positive (or at least non-negative) sign, but grabbed just three rebounds. After the game, Wittman proclaimed “I could get a rebound…we’re too soft…I may as well have four guards with a center…our supposed bigs can’t get a rebound.” It’s never good when the other teams point guard has only two fewer rebounds then your starting front court combined.
Hey, at least turnovers weren’t the problem tonight. The Wizards committed just 8 turnovers, and most of those were in the garbage time fourth quarter. Wall had none. Of course, they only forced OKC into 12 turnovers. Treading water in the possession battle doesn’t do much when you’re being flooded everywhere else.