When season recap of the 2012-13 Oklahoma City Thunder is pixeled, their 101-99 loss to Washington Wizards will stand out like a RG3 jersey in Dallas, or me drinking an O’Doul’s. The “worst beating first” result was improbable, but it was memorable because of its strange quirks.
Washington often gets buried by poor beginnings, but this time they raced out to a strong start with 30 points in the first quarter. And a devastating scoring drought (like the seven-minute stretch that cemented the Jan. 9 loss to Miami, ugh) never materialized.
Jan Vesely actually did positive stuff on the basketball court, finishing with 10 points. Honza had gone weeks without totaling that output, and get this: he only had two fouls. Emeka Okafor showed himself to be a rim protector with a gigantic rejection of a Kevin Durant slam attempt. Garrett Temple scored some huge offensive put-backs in the paint.
Serge Ibaka — OKC’s big man — was their best offensive player, pouring in a career-high 26 points; Ibaka even drilled a 3-pointer at first half buzzer. And Wizards, finally, inexplicably to followers of this squad, did not fold in crunch time, highlighted by Bradley Beal’s smooth, one-handed, game-winning dagger.
The most unlikely occurrences of the night, however, were the Wizards pulling off not one, but two 4-point plays. Both of these difficult, long-range buckets with fouls unfolded at instrumental times and won momentum for the Wizards, propelling them to their fifth victory.
The first 4-point play transpired after A.J. Price went on one of his frustrating “over-dribbling to nowhere” displays, finally resulting in him tossing the ball to Beal in the far right corner. Beal details what went down next:
“It was tough ’cause A.J. threw the ball to me with three seconds left on the shot clock. The first thing I did was look at the shot clock and saw there was three seconds. I pulled a Kevin Martin, ’cause he always does it all the time, ripped through his hand and shot it, and it actually went in. It was a great play.”
Beal converted the free throw, nudging Washington’s lead to four points and closing out the third quarter on a high note. Last month, after the Lakers game, Beal revealed how Kobe grabbed his arm to purposely draw a foul, so it’s refreshing to see the 19-year-old rookie sprinkling similar tactics into his offensive repertoire.
Martell Webster’s money ball came at the 1:43 mark in the fourth quarter, with Wizards clinging to a one-point advantage. Russell Westbrook ran out to Webster at right wing, and Webster swung his arms inside Westbrook’s arms as he rose up for his shot. After the ball fell in and the whistle blew, Martell joyfully stuck out his tongue (pictured above) and the crowd erupted in celebration.
For the NBA’s most futile offense, racking up these bonus points was significant. Webster emphasized their importance:
“We need all of them. That just comes down to us being consonant of the fact in a time like this, with a team coming off a back-to-back, who are known going to their main guys in the fourth quarter and getting those stops.
“But then also having to come down on the other end offensively, and make big shots. We were very consonant of that tonight. We had two 4-point plays that were big, kept us in the game and gave us the lead. We were able to run out of here with the win.”
It is your move, Jamal Crawford, to top those two.