I thought they had learned.
Much like last season when the Thunder fell in Washington to the lowly Wizards, Oklahoma City dropped a headscratcher to the now 5-28 Wizards, 101-99. That’s right, that’s the Wizards fifth win of the season. OKC got that on Nov. 11. Didn’t matter tonight though.
Even when it seemed that Kevin Durant might’ve rescued the Thunder from embarrassment with a ridiculous 3 to tie the game at 99-99 with 36 seconds left, this was a terrible, awful, very no-good performance by OKC. Even if the Thunder found a way to win, it wasn’t going to excuse the fact that they went nearly 11 minutes without a basket in the second half, missed 16 straight shots and allowed the Wizards to score a hundred points.
But as he should, Bradley Beal punished the Thunder for their misdeeds. Was it a lucky shot? Yeah, it really was. And it wasn’t the first one the Wizards hit tonight. Martell Webster had an and-1 3 on a double-clutch heave, which made it pretty clear that this was just going to be their night.
I really don’t know what to say. It’s such a comically bad loss, but at the same time, it truly does happen. Just ask the Heat. Or the Thunder from last season who did this exact same thing and then miraculously recovered and marched to the NBA Finals. For tonight, a loss like this is going to really eat at you and make you angry. And it should. There’s no good excuse or reason to be losing to a team as bad as the Wizards, especially that Wizards team that was missing most every one of their good players.
But at the same time, it’s not hard to diagnose the issues of this one. The Thunder lapsed majorly in the second half, lost focus defensively, especially on the boards, and couldn’t find a way to put the ball in the basket. Miss 16 straight shots, go 11 minutes without putting the ball through the hoop, let Martell Webster score 22 on you, let Kevin Seraphin score 19 on you, get outrebounded — do all of those things and you deserve to lose, no matter who you are.
It was fairly evident from tipoff that the Thunder weren’t mentally there as the Wizards — who possess the worst offense in all of basketball and were missing their top two offensive players — dropped 30 points on OKC in the first quarter. They didn’t have a quarter with less than 21. For a team like the Thunder that like to pretend they’re a defensive group, that’s bad. Real bad.
What’s unfortunate about this loss is that it just gets more difficult for OKC going forward. They return home to play Minnesota on Wednesday, but then go on the road for nine of their next 10 with games against the Lakers, Nuggets, Clippers, Warriors, Nuggets again and Lakers again.
What’s also very unfortunate is that the Thunder spoiled a truly tremendous game from Serge Ibaka. He had a career-high 26 points and pulled in 11 rebounds. He competed, he worked, he battled. For a lot of the second half, I wanted Ibaka to get a touch every possession. But when you lose to the Wizards, good individual performances tend to get overlooked.
Giving away a game against the Wizards is the type of thing that can come back and bite you in April when you’re battling the Clippers or Spurs for the top seed. You live to regret these types of losses. But evidently not enough to make sure they don’t ever happen anymore.
- The Spurs lost to the Hornets tonight. Just sayin’.
- I think it’s just a yearly Thunder tradition. At some point, they have to lose a game that makes you want to put your face in a pot of boiling water. Typically, at the hands of the Kings or Wizards. It’s like when your kid spills a drink, you say, “Hey, that’s one less spill for the rest of your life!” With this, you can say, “Hey, that’s one less horrible loss to the Wizards for the rest of your life!”
- It’s hard to not thumb Russell Westbrook for a lot of this, because not only did he have a miserable shooting night — just 4-17 for 17 points — but he didn’t register a single assist in the second half. Now, part of that is because his teammates weren’t making very many shots, but when OKC’s offense went kaput, he wasn’t exactly running well-oiled sets. Or take a play like this for example. What was Russ thinking there? Obviously it’s not his fault, but let’s just say this: It wasn’t his best game.
- Ibaka swished his seventh 3 of the season to close the first half. He had made two total in his career before this season.
- Seriously though, KD’s got a top three crossover, right? He got Trevor Ariza good tonight.
- Kevin Martin gave the Thunder very little tonight. He didn’t shoot the ball well, going just 3-12 (0-6 from 3) from the floor for eight points.
- Big shame of Beal’s game-winner is that he never should’ve gotten the chance. The Thunder got a stop the possession before it but weren’t able to gain possession as the ball went out off them. OKC secures it there and it’s Durant time with 10 seconds left. Gotta like the Thunder’s chances.
- Seems a popular question is if this was the worst loss in Thunder history. You could make a good case for that.
- Turnovers surprisingly weren’t the issue. OKC only gave it away 13 times, which is pretty good for them.
- Hey, everyone that’s tweeting me asking what the Thunder are in their alternates: It’s 3-2 now.
- Via @ThunderStats: Serge Ibaka now has seven career 20 point games. Five of those are from this season alone.
- Kendrick Perkins had 11 rebounds tonight.
- In a two-point loss, Durant was a +11 and Perk was a +9.
- In a rare instance, OKC’s small lineup with Durant at power forward and Ibaka at center was a major flop. The Wizards extended a lead to 10 against that group and it wasn’t until Scott Brooks came back with two bigs until OKC started getting stops and rebounds.
- Brooks dusted off DeAndre Liggins for a couple minutes late in the third. And his energy was very effective. He took a charge, grabbed a few rebounds and made some nice cuts. Hard not to like Liggins.
- KD flirted with a triple-double: 29-7-8.
- It’s funny, when you lose a game like this, it makes you question everything. I’m sitting here thinking, “What if they lose again Wednesday? What if this is the start to a major downfall? What if they’re a FRAUD?!?!” And then I remind myself this exact same thing happened last season and everything was just fine.
- It could be worse: You could be a Notre Dame fan.
- Brian Davis Line of the Night: “Viewer discretion… advised!”
Next up: Home against the Wolves Wednesday.