Stormy Trio [Thunder] Claps Wiz Kids — Wizards at Thunder, Game 46 | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Stormy Trio [Thunder] Claps Wiz Kids — Wizards at Thunder, Game 46

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Updated: February 2, 2016

The D.C. Council… TAI’s highlights, seen and heard, from each Washington Wizards game. Now: Wizards at Thunder, Game 46, Feb. 1, 2016, via Bryan Frantz (@BFrantz202)

That Game Was … Surprisingly Close, Moderately Entertaining

At no point did you watch this game, assuming you watched this game, thinking the Wizards were actually going to win, but you had to raise an eyebrow on more than one occasion at Washington’s myriad of mini-comebacks. The Thunder went up by 10-to-15 points time and again, but the Wizards kept fighting back to get it back to 7-to-9 points. That’s something, believe it or not. Washington often falls behind by double digits and maintains that deficit (1), so the notion that the game was never really, technically unwinnable is certainly a positive.

Despite the two teams sustaining point totals that inhabited the same planet, middle America clearly boasted the superior basketballing squad on this day. Russell Westbrook had a triple-double before the end of the third quarter for the second time in two games against the Wizards this season, finishing with 17 points on 8-for-13 shooting, 13 rebounds, and 11 assists. Serge Ibaka had 19 points on 8-for-12 shooting, 10 rebounds, and two blocks. Enes Kanter put up 14 points on 4-for-7 shooting and a 6-for-6 affair from the charity stripe.

Oh, and that local basketball pro contributed to the Thunder’s reign with 28 points on 9-for-18 shooting, nine rebounds, and four assists. Durant went 0-for-4 with a pair of turnovers in the fourth quarter, but he dominated enough in the first three quarters to kick back and chuckle over the #KD2DC dream that existed for way too long.

M.V.P.

Give that man John Wall a round of applause (and a nap, and a week off, and a raise, and a…). On paper, he was mediocre at best. He finished with 17 points, eight assists, and four rebounds, each below his season average, despite 40:58 of action. He also added six more turnovers to his season tally, which reached 201 Monday night. But he was the only reason Washington was able to stay competitive relevant for much of the game, and his constant attacking of the basket, at least early on, was one of the most positive takeaways. He hit a bit of a lull as the game wore on, scoring just five points on 2-for-8 shooting after halftime, but the whole team was in a lull for much of the second half, so what are you gonna do? The All-Star point guard was also credited with three blocks on the night, blocking Kevin Durant twice while hustling back in defensive transition (once after Wall turned the ball over, of course).

The top runner-up for this coveted award goes to Jared Dudley, who played hard, communicated on defense, helped set a style early on, and started (for the second straight game!). Like Wall, he was far more impressive on the court than he was on paper—eight points on 2-for-6 shooing, four rebounds, and six assists has him coming up just a wee bit short of M.V.P. voting. But his passing was excellent, and Dudley moved with and without the ball throughout the game. He and Wall were the two who jumped out as playing active, fully devoted games. I have a pretty strong feeling this duo dominated last week’s players-only meeting.

L.V.P.

Just because it’s obvious doesn’t mean it’s any less true: The Wizards are really atrocious on defense. Oklahoma City shot .518 from the field, and that number was dragged down by a 6-for-20 fourth quarter, when the Thunder spent a healthy chunk of time dicking around and waiting for the game to end before chucking up a tough shot to beat the shot clock. The worst part was: Even when they forced a Thunder miss, all the Wizards players would begin their jog to the other end of the court as the ball was just caroming off the rim. As a result, Washington was absolutely punished on the glass to the tune of a 53-27 overall edge. In the fourth quarter alone, Oklahoma City grabbed six offensive rebounds—the Wizards finished the game with two offensive rebounds.

OKC’s big three had its way with the Wizards throughout, and those numbers were mildly skewed by Durant’s errors of frustration in the fourth quarter. The trio combined to rack up 32 rebounds, five more than the Wizards team. Washington managed 20 assists to their 18, and the trio’s combined plus/minus was plus-44 (+15 when all on the court at the same time). It was an absolute exhibition on how to dominate with a trio of stars.

X-Factor.

It’s such a cliché, but hustle really decided the winner of this game. Hustle is a broad term in this sense, and it could really be subbed out for “attention to detail.” For example, when the Wizards were jogging up the court after a stop, they kept their heads down and didn’t pay attention to the details, which, in this case, were primarily that Washington did not yet have the ball. All Oklahoma City’s players had to do was keep an eye on the rock and make a move on a loose ball or a lazy or errant pass to regain possession. Or when Wall hustled back on defense one time in the final minutes of the first half to swat a Durant layup, no other Wizard tracked back with him, so the loose ball went right to Ibaka, who drained a 3.

Or when the Wizards cut the deficit to 12 with just under 10 minutes remaining, then they get a stop to have a chance to actually make the game close again, but Drew Gooden seemingly forgets he is dribbling and loses the ball at the top of the key. Then, after Washington somehow forces another stop, Wall leads Marcin Gortat too far on a transition feed and the ball sails hopelessly out of bounds. If the Wizards convert on both of those possessions, even if they just get two points on each, suddenly they’re looking at an eight-point game with more than nine minutes to go. They followed that up with another stop—a block by Wall—and Garrett Temple drained a 3 on the other end to make it a nine-point game. It could have been five, however, and the momentum would have been with Washington. A Thunder timeout likely would have followed, meaning the ensuing Cameron Payne 3-pointer might not have happened.

Alas, that’s not how it went. Washington did what Washington does—that is, fart away the game—and the Wizards fell to 0-1 under interim head coach Don Newman. Luke Walton’s record lives to fight another day.


  1. Wiz fans are sometimes treated to a meaningless final-minute rally to make the score semi-respectable.
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Bryan Frantz
Reporter / Writer at TAI
Bryan is a D.C. native with a degree in something or other from UNC. He has important, interesting hobbies, but mostly he just weeps over D.C. sports teams. You can find him on the Metro, inevitably complaining about Red Line delays.