DC Council 43: Wizards vs Thunder — Durant and Westbrook Flash, Wiz Kids Crash in OT | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

DC Council 43: Wizards vs Thunder — Durant and Westbrook Flash, Wiz Kids Crash in OT

Updated: January 22, 2015

Truth About It.net’s D.C. Council:
Grading Washington players from Game No. 43: Wizards versus the OKC Thunder in D.C.
Contributor: Kyle Weidie from the Mt. Pleasant/Columbia Heights.


It was a grinding affair. An awkwardly grinding affair. Like the doughy but confident underage kid who snuck into an Irish bar with a dance floor (yes, those exist, at least in America), roaming around, bobbing his head to Top 40 hits, occasionally stopping to awkwardly peddle his dancing wares (in his mind, a mating ritual) lest he look too awkward standing still. The scene, as dark and murky basement dance floors are wont to do, featured obscured talent just worthy enough to serve as a distraction.

We’re talking about last night’s Wizards basketball game versus the Thunder, right? I think so.

The thud of missed shots acted as the bass. The cheap courting of the other team’s star acted as the screeching treble. Nothing sounded right. At least the competition, available at a minimum, served as a nice backdrop.

These are two good teams, Washington and Oklahoma City, and their overtime battle was an exhilarating rug burn, leaving the Wizards shrugging their shoulders at the cross roads of ‘They have superstars who can just wake up ready for the catwalk’ and ‘We are a team trying to escape bone-headed plays on a wobbly ladder of consistency.’

The Wiz Kids, not all fully injected with Paul Pierce’s gusto, tried to skip some rungs, and that ultimately led to Russell Westbrook skipping around and Kevin Durant supremely satisfied that he could give his hometown a show.

The Wizards attempted 10 more uncontested field goals than the Thunder but only made five more of those shots.

The Thunder attempted 12 more contested field goals than Washington and made seven more.

In most worlds, that doesn’t work out for the visiting team. In Washington’s world of unfamiliar basketball relevance, without protection of throat-slashing stars who will dunk on the nub where a head once stood atop a neck, it’s amounts to a beta dog licking its wounds and searching through grass and dirt for sustenance while gazing at the backsides of an alpha: not exactly seeing the feast of meat and bone hanging from a mouth and leading to a satisfied stomach, but knowing that it’s there nonetheless.

The gist? Westbrook and Durant combined for 66 points on 22-for-51 from the field. Washington’s starters not named Nene combined for 56 points on 21-for-60.

But hey, basketball.


Oklahoma City





Nene Hilario, PF

34 MIN | 9-14 FG | 6-9 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 24 PTS | 0 +/-

Nene made a last-resort jumper off great ball movement on the first offensive possession for Washington. (I still need to find that stat for his field goal percentage after knocking down the first attempt from distance.) But on this night, Nene didn’t rely on his jumper: 10 of his 14 attempts came at the rim and he made eight of them. Looking as comfortable (and spry) as he’s ever been, he took it to both Serge Ibaka and Steven Adams in the post, mostly Adams. There was one devastating move where he pivoted the New Zealander out of his shorts. He scored nine of his points in overtime, when Washington’s offense finally managed to get movement and action with high ball screens. This more than made up for airballing a corner 3 and then missing two free throws within 40 seconds midway through the fourth. There were also a play, maybe two, where Nene was uncharacteristically out of position on defense. It was that kind of night all around, but also, Nene was the only Wizard who truly showed up.

Paul Pierce, SF

37 MIN | 5-13 FG | 2-2 FT | 12 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 14 PTS | -2 +/-

Pierce started the game by jetting past a sleeping Kevin Durant on the baseline and dunking on Anthony Roberson. He then missed six 3-pointers, looking short on many his shots—to the point where Hubie Brown had to say something. Pierce did other things while he was cold from the field, keeping his team warm like the sweater of an old grizzled sailor, eating rebounds like biscuits, de-robing Durant a couple times. He knitted them a mitten, grabbing an offensive board and put-back, then followed that with a cutting layup midway through the third quarter. Pierce knitted another mitten with some heroic 3s in the fourth quarter (being super wide-open and at the top of the key also limited miles on old legs in the equation). Pierce didn’t get much of a chance to do anything in overtime, other than allow himself to get sealed (perhaps illegally) by Steven Adams on Westbrook’s game-winner.

Marcin Gortat, C

37 MIN | 5-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 3 BLK | 0 TO | 10 PTS | -5 +/-

After that one, Marcin Gortat needs to have amnesia that would stun a psychiatrist (and Bradley Beal). It was quite the forgettable evening. He…

  • Air-balled a 3.
  • Once settled for a missed jumper as Paul Pierce yelled “Dunk on him!” (Him being Steven Adams.)
  • Got somewhat ignored by the offense, perhaps with good reasons, but certainly to the chagrin of Hubie Brown.
  • Incited groans from the crowd after missing a bunny.
  • Got buried alive by a Slim Reaper.

A tiny bit of positive: Gortat logged three blocks—one came versus Durant, there should have been at least one more.

John Wall, PG

44 MIN | 6-17 FG | 4-4 FT | 6 REB | 13 AST | 4 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 18 PTS | +5 +/-

As has often been the case with All-Star John Wall, the point guard, he started the game measured with the efficiency of an overachieving manager at a plastic spork factory who likes to make sure all his employees feel special. The Wizards’ offense looked smooth in the first quarter, scoring 31 points despite going 1-for-7 from 3. But then sometimes and later on, Wall tried to take all the credit, but mostly missed jumpers. He tied his season-high (previously set in OKC) with six 3-point attempts, making two (which is also how many he made in OKC).

So, a B-minus is generous considering that Wall missed a “hero” jumper toward the very end of regulation and that he seemed apathetic toward Washington’s chances, down 3 in overtime with 0.8 seconds left, placing himself so far away from the basket that his only choice was a desperation heave.

Bradley Beal, SG

42 MIN | 5-21 FG | 2-2 FT | 8 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 14 PTS | -6 +/-

Beal got some plays run for him early, investigated some forays to the basket, is still not confident enough, nor capable, to drive on the B/W Parkway alone.

Let’s put it this way: Beal pretty much sucked worse than Dion Waiters. But, unlike Waiters, he doesn’t come across as an arrogant basketball ignoramus, and he did other things to involve himself in the game—such as air-balling a 3-pointer but hanging around the basket to receive a pass off a Paul Pierce-gathered offensive rebound for a dunk.

Beal’s forgettable performance turned disastrous when he misplayed the final defensive possession in overtime, allowing himself to be distracted by the concept of Russell Westbrook’s conceptual fashion when the gambled for a conceptual steal. No dice, said Russ, the alpha dog. He won the night and Beal went back to chewing on post-game bamboo. At least he admitted it: “I got caught ball watching.”

Kris Humphries, PF

19 MIN | 1-3 FG | 2-2 FT | 9 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | -2 +/-

Humphries hit one shot, a jumper from the short corner, and he played nice help defense on Westbrook at one juncture … but that ultimately led to a Nick Collison bucket, and no one wins when Nick Collison scores. Not totally sure why Humphries gets a ‘B’—the nine rebounds were cool, I guess.

Otto Porter Jr., SF

7 MIN | 0-2 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 1 PTS | +4 +/-

Can’t be missing those wide-open baseline jumpers like a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming paddleboat in shin-deep, lukewarm water, Otto. Body almost got snatched by Kendrick Perkins on a routine play, too.

Rasual Butler, SF

25 MIN | 3-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 9 PTS | +5 +/-

Butler must have some sort of karma. As Hubie Brown was bragging about him over the ESPN broadcast, he sat in the lane on defense, seeing ball and man, and picked off a pass for the steal. Butler, fully aware and dedicated to John Wall, then sprinted up the court with his point guard and ultimately received a pass for the dunk.

Karma, however, stops at Kevin Durant.

Butler’s efforts to defend him were valiant—Durant went 3-for-5 with eight points with Butler in the defending area. Two of those makes, 3-pointers, came in the fourth quarter. And it was nothing that Butler did or didn’t do, it’s just with guys like him, guys like Durant smell blood, and all the karma in the world is no match for teeth sharp enough to cut bone.

Kevin Seraphin, C

11 MIN | 4-9 FG | 1-1 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 9 PTS | -2 +/-

Kevin Seraphin, out of any Wizard, represents the ups and downs of life. He started his game with an offensive rebound and impressed (Hubie Brown and me) with his composure. On a couple possessions Seraphin was very Nene-like from the high post, moving the defense with hesitation and the threat to pass before attacking the basket.

As goes life, Seraphin got dunked on by a New Zealander, almost got eviscerated by a Durantula, and followed a nice step-back jump hook against Kendrick Perkins by getting his shot blocked by the sour-faced one on the other end. C’est la vie.

Andre Miller, PG

9 MIN | 0-4 FG | 0-2 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -7 +/-

The Professor almost had a nice maneuver against center Steven Adams and almost scored at the rim. Washington’s offense was otherwise a man with the shakes trying to cut a pea with cheap diner silverware on a cheap porcelain plate when Miller was in the game.

I wonder what Nate Robinson’s spirit animal is. Just a little bit.




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Kyle Weidie
Founder / Editor / Reporter / Writer at TAI
Kyle founded TAI in 2007 and has been weaving in and out the world of Wizards ever since, ducking WittmanFaces, jumping over G-Wiz, and avoiding stints on the DNP-Conditioning list. He has covered the Washington pro basketball team as a member of the media since 2009. Kyle currently lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife, loves basketball, and has no pets.