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Westbrook, OKC No Match For Wizards Powerhouse

Wizards 120
Thunder 98

February 13, 2017 – Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.

NBA Stats Box Score

I find myself writing this a lot lately.

Did you see that coming?

Washington was up 22-6, then more impressively 93-59. This was not against the Brooklyn Nets or the Phoenix Suns. This was the Oklahoma City Thunder, a team with a leading MVP candidate and one that has been historically good against the Wizards. Regardless, Washington dominated from start to finish, never trailing, and ending the pre-All Star game home stretch with a 120-98 victory. The Wizards have 24 home wins before the All-Star break which easily tops the previous franchise record of 21 in the 1978-79 season.

1st quarter

During the recent turnaround since December, Washington has been getting off to much better starts in games and have not had to rely on consistently mounting late comebacks. That was the case last night as the Wizards made their first nine shots and were off to a 22-6 start. Within that stretch the home team was on a 13-0 run thanks to three 3-pointers in a row via the Beal-Morris combination.

But the Thunder wouldn’t be run out of Verizon Center just yet, responding with a 15-5 run. Russell Westbrook dominated the second half of the quarter and finished the frame with 13 points and a couple dimes. After one quarter, things were still close at 38-32 in favor of the home team, who shot an absurd 70 percent from the field, an accomplishment for just the eighth time this season.

John Wall being John Wall.

2nd quarter

In the end it did not matter, but tonight was another reminder that the Washington bench is not the best in the league. It did not help that early foul trouble for some of the Thunder meant their starters played early minutes in the second against Washington’s second unit. Oklahoma City cut the Washington lead to three on three separate occasions including after a Cameron Payne three-pointer with 7:35 left in the half.

The Thunder might have been feeling good about themselves, but head coach Scott Brooks unleashed the wolves on his former team by inserting John Wall back in the game and Bradley Beal less than three minutes later. Washington went on a 9-2 run when the House of Guards were back in the game late in the first half to take a double-digit lead into halftime, 67-54. The Thunder would not be within single-digits the rest of the night.

3rd quarter

Between the 3:59 mark of the second quarter and the 5:57 mark of the third the Thunder did not have a single bucket. Yes, for over 10 minutes of a professional NBA basketball game, a team did not make a field goal. Oklahoma City missed 24 straight shots – TWENTY-FOUR – and as a result, the Wizards lead ballooned to 34 and the white towel started to be waved.

This between-the-legs pass by Wall to Otto was everything:

Here is what Markieff Morris and John Wall had to say about the defensive showing:

“Defending. They had some wide-open shots that they missed, the ball wasn’t going their way. We had a lot of momentum going in that third quarter. We had the fans in the game, and it’s just a tough place to play when it’s like that.” – Markieff Morris

“Playing great defense, contesting those guys, just doing a great job of trying to keep Russ (Westbrook) out of the paint and finding to his guys. We challenged shots…did a great job of rebounding. I think in the first half they had 11 offensive rebounds, when they were missing they were getting rebounds. In the third quarter, we did a great job of getting rebounds and getting out in transition.” – John Wall

Headed to the fourth quarter, Washington had already hit the century mark for the 21st straight game by leading 101-73.

4th quarter

The outcome was already decided. Washington was going to win this game. They were not going to lose a 28-point lead in 12 minutes. This is not the same team from last year or even early this season. Despite that, Brooks still decided it was important to get Wall, Beal, and Porter back into the game when the lead was cut to 21 with 8:41 left to play. At times late in the game Brooks was animated on the sidelines with disgust with his team, which is not too surprising if you look deeper at the box score.

So, let’s take a look at how this game was nowhere near as good as a 22-point victory would sound to the ordinary fan. Washington gave up 20 offensive rebounds to a team without Enes Kanter, who Wall admitted was a difference maker in the first matchup. This resulted in 23 second chance points for the Thunder. Moreover, the Wizards turned it over 23 times including five for the #WallStar, which we will excuse because he did have 14 assists. If the OKC had more than just 14 points off the Wizards mistakes, this could have been more of a ball game. Alas, the Thunder were held to 35.4 shooting from the field, their third worse performance of the seasons and Washington won 120-98.

Also this:

#WizThunder in a Tweet

The Game’s Top Performer

Bradley Beal – 22 points, 6 three-pointers, 3 assists

A huge honorable mention shout out goes to Markieff Morris who in the past two games has scored 49 points on 19 of 32 shooting, 59.4 percent. But Beal’s efficiency last was unmatched. The Panda took just eight shot attempts and made seven of them including six from distance. In a game where he played under 23 minutes, partly due to foul trouble and partly due to the blowout nature of the contest, nearly a point a minute is a great ratio.

Scott Brooks on Bradley Beal scoring 22 points on just eight shots:

“It’s great. He got in some foul trouble. He was in a zone that first quarter, you could just see it – certain guys you can just see it – once it leaves his hand, you know it’s going in. I don’t know if he even hit rim on any of his shots. He got in some foul trouble, we got him out of the game. He’s been like this all year. He’s having a great year, we just have to continue to get him better and have him improve his overall game. He’s one of those guys that should be better every year, the way he works, and he’s 23 years old.”

A forgettable night for..

Russell Westbrook

The leading MVP candidate laid an egg, plain and simple. Westbrook was 5 of 19 from the field, missed all four of his three-point attempts, and did not come anywhere close to his triple-double average with just 4 rebounds and 4 assists. Westbrook would not score in the second half and only scored four points after the two minutes remaining mark in the first quarter. The UCLA product was shy of talking about his flaws post game.

Key Stat of the Night

Plus-minus is not the greatest statistic in the world, but tonight it did a pretty good representation of what went down. Every single starter was at least +30 and in total, they were +167. Just simmer on that for a bit.

What’s next?

For the last game before All Star break, Washington will travel to Indiana for their final matchup with the Pacers on Thursday. The Wizards have already earned at least a season-split with Indiana with last Friday’s 112-107 victory, but would do themselves well to earn the tiebreaker should a playoffs seeding dilemma occur.

Neil Dalal

Neil Dalal is a Staff Writer for Hoop District covering the Wizards. Neil grew up in Silver Spring, MD and attends the University of Maryland, College Park. Neil also covers the Washington Redskins for Breaking Burgundy and Maryland Terrapins for Testudo Times. Neil previously covered the Wizards for District Sports Page and is looking forward to bring his in-person coverage to each of the loyal Hoop District followers.

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