Key Legislature: Wizards 98 at Thunder 114 — No Charge, No Chance | Wizards Blog Truth About

Key Legislature: Wizards 98 at Thunder 114 — No Charge, No Chance

Updated: February 2, 2016

TAI’s Key Legislature… The game’s defining moment, its critical event, the wildest basketball thing you ever saw, or just stuff that happened. Wizards at Thunder, Regular Season Game 46, Feb. 1, 2016, by John Converse Townsend (@JohnCTownsend).

Basketball is all about match-ups. In this 114-98 Thunder win, the Wizards lost most of them. (1)

John Wall scored 18 points with 8 assists. “John Wall is like the evil twin of Russell Westbrook,” Thunder TV analyst Michael Cage said a few minutes in. And later: “Talk about a mirror image, almost, of Russell Westbrook with the basketball.”

But Russell Westbrook triple-doubled in three quarters. He finished with 13 boards, 11 dimes, and 17 points. On thirteen shots and a single free throw (six attempts fewer at the line than his season average).

The baddest point guard in the NBA (2) turned screens to perfection and made dominating look easy all night. And his post-up game caused problems from the get-go–past Wall or over him to help OKC to a 6-2 lead. With the Wizards cowering, having realized two defenders wouldn’t be enough to stop Russ, Durant scored none of their next 11 points, mostly unbothered by Otto Porter, Garrett Temple, Jared Dudley, whomever.

Serge Ibaka. Too tough, nine points in nine minutes.

The Wizards trailed by 10 points after the first quarter. It was only that close because Wall out-scored OKC 7-6 in the final 1:24 (once rookie Cameron Payne entered the game for Westbrook), two layups and a hoop plus the harm. At halftime it was 64-52, Thunder. The aforementioned superstar trio had 42 points on 26 shots. Promethean. The Wizards had made just one 3-pointer and were getting wiped on the glass, grabbing zero offensive boards and getting out-rebounded 26-12 overall.

From there, John Wall and the rest of the product would get close as six once, for 23 seconds. The Thunder cruised like a Harley on the highway. Too comfortable at times, from a Wizards perspective. Fans watching were treated to a third-quarter show featuring trampoline dunk team, Lob City Midwest. Colorful posters and acrobatic alley-oops.

The fourth quarter: “Easy Rider” Action Bronson, sunset silhouette.

The raw numbers? The Wizards entered and exited the arena 30th against Western Conference teams in points allowed per game (now 109.8), field goal percentage (48.7%) and 3-point percentage (43.4%). Durant ended up with 28 points and nine boards; Ibaka double-doubled with 19 and 10.

The Wizards were out-rebounded (27-53), shown the shed on second-chance points (18-2), out-scored on the break (14-12), and had their shots swatted more often (3-5). “They just got one after another,” Assistant Coach Randy Newman said. “They beat us to the ball all night. That’s what happened.”

The Wizards were beat from every line:

Wizards: 26.9%
Thunder: 31.8%

Free Throw
Wizards: 73.3%
Thunder: 77.8%

Wizards: not enough points
Thunder: 16 more

The sideline, too. Newman, filling in for Randy Wittman (3), dialed up this week’s standard rotations and got a standard result. Kelly Oubre didn’t leave his seat till inside the last two minutes (dos minutos), but scored more points than Drew Gooden (15:23 of action), Gary Neal (5:18), and DeJuan Blair (6:17). Oubre’s total: two points. So, despite Bradley Beal putting up 18 points off the bench, Washington’s second unit was just plus-2 over Oklahoma City’s.

And the ‘Zards defense didn’t look any wiser, perhaps most evident in the set below.

Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 9.44.40 PM

The Wizards, here, have four players (4) in the paint trying to dig out a Westbrook post-up. That this tactic leaves Kevin Durant free for 3 in a zone where he shoots 44.1 percent is especially problematic. (He would miss.) That it looked like a practiced defensive strategy is cause for concern.

“The awareness on the weak side wasn’t there,” Temple said afterward.

Newman will get another go on Wednesday from the tame and familiar confines of the Verizon Center. But against the Golden State Warriors … well, don’t expect to be impressed. Dudley wasn’t on Monday night: “Our rotations were so bad that they had such a huge advantage where once we came back to try to rebound, they had inside position.”

This is what 21-25 looks and sounds like.

Basketball is about match-ups. The 2016 Wizards don’t.

  1. The one win: Bradley Beal versus Dion Waiters. Always.
  2. Steph Curry is the most dangerous.
  3. Heavy heart having lost his brother, rightfully excused by the team.
  4. Wall, Beal, Porter, and Dudley, with Nene’s foot on the line.
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John Converse Townsend
Reporter / Writer / Co-Editor at TAI
John has been part of the editorial team at TAI since 2010. He likes: pocket passes, chase-down blocks, 3-pointers. He dislikes: typos, turnovers, midrange jump shots.