January 2, 2015 – Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK
The Washington Wizards swung by Oklahoma City last night for game 3 of their Midwest road trip, squaring off against a Thunder team finally playing at full tilt. For about 45 game minutes, the Wizards were neck and neck with the team spearheaded by Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, but too much KD (nine 4th quarter points) and too many empty possessions (five turnovers and 13 missed shots) for the Wizards down the stretch gave OKC a seven point lead with under two minutes remaining and ultimately sealed the cap on what was a hard fought game.
At 22-10 the Wizards are no longer qualified to walk away from games with ‘moral victories’. This was simply a tough loss to a really good team and one that most likely had John Wall kicking himself all the way to San Antonio tonight. And that isn’t exactly a bad thing considering history lessons that prove John’s resilience after bad games and tough showings.
Here are some key takeaways from OKC:
John Wall had zero turnovers until this:
Literally, John Wall finished with one turnover for the game and it was costly. Down 3 with about 30 seconds left, Wall was looking to make a swing pass to Bradley Beal across the top of the 3-point line and it was one of those passes that you gather yourself to make despite seeing a defender in good position but for some reason you instinctively make off a back foot in hopes that the ball still reaches your teammate. Well, the ball was being defended by Russell Westbrook and no, it wasn’t even close. Russ signed for the telegraphed pass, ran it back the other way and kudos to Wall for racing back and making a play on Westbrook’s layup.
Yeah, he’s back alright. I could literally feel my hair graying with every KD bucket in the 4th and every Wizards possession failing to counter his attack. Durant scored nine 4th quarter, eight of them in the final four minutes, nearly single-handedly pulling the Thunder away to a seven point lead, one the Wizards never recovered from.
Durant showcased everything in his arsenal last night and proved the injuries that forced him to play so sporadically this season are an element of the past. The Wizards were indefensible against Durant. He pulled up from long range at will; he maneuvered through defenders to knock down jumpers from virtually anywhere, contested or not. He was simply KD, giving me no reason to badger further on why was practically impossible to slow him down.
Can’t put this team to sleep.
This is pretty much a continuation of the Kevin Durant segment above. Twice in the 3rd quarter the Wizards pull ahead by eight and twice the lead lasted about as long as Chipotle lasts in my system. The Wizards took a 63-55 lead early in the 3rd after a John Wall 3-pointer but in less than four minutes the Thunder went on a 10-2 run and the game was at 65. Kevin Durant scored six of those points in that run. Later, the Wizards went up by eight again thanks to a John Wall 3-pointer and were seemingly en route to a comfortable lead going into the 4th.
Try again, #WizKids.
Kevin Durant knocked down two consecutive 3’s and the Thunder went on an 8-0 run in one minute to tie it up at the end of the 3rd. The momentum would carry over into the 4th for the Thunder, and the Wizards found themselves being the ones scrapping to keep up and counter Kevin Durant’s dominance. A hard-fought performance resulted in a tough loss for the Wizards, hopefully serving as prep for tonight’s matchup against the Spurs.