Beal's 41 Not Enough To Overcome Wizards' Turnover Woes in Oklahoma City | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Beal’s 41 Not Enough To Overcome Wizards’ Turnover Woes in Oklahoma City

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Updated: January 26, 2018

https://twitter.com/NBAonTNT/status/956711406300098560

“This Wizards team, man. Seriously, they stink.”

“I love Scott Brooks but this team — watching them play — they aren’t good at all.”

“I don’t think they are better than Indiana or Miami.”

“I’m a little disappointed.”

“This team is just going through the motions.”

“The half-court offense is awful.”

I’ll take “Things the TNT crew said about the Washington Wizards” for a $1,000 Alex.

Chuck, Kenny and Reggie Miller were not kind to the Wizards after watching them shoot 36-percent en route to a 54-40 halftime deficit against the Thunder. Who can blame them? They were just now seeing what Wizards fans have been watching all season: an inexplicable and drastic drop off for a supposed Eastern Conference contender.

There’s no need for  a traditional game recap. Let’s jump straight into the biggest stories from another loss in Oklahoma City.

What a Run, What a Glorious Short-lived Run

The Wizards looked dead in the water after the first 24 minutes (hence all the comments above from the TNT crew). But a funny thing happened early in the third quarter: The Wizards miraculously – and most unexpectedly – went on a sustained run of efficient offense and aggressive defense, making seven consecutive shots and erasing a 15-point deficit in only four and a half minutes.

Everything was clicking for the Wizards. John Wall had eight assists in the first seven and a half minutes of the quarter, including a driving dish to Marcin Gortat that used to be a staple of Washington’s half-court offense.

https://twitter.com/NBAonTNT/status/956716325421772800

We even had a Markieff Morris sighting. He hit two three-pointers and a layup during the run and ended the night with one of his best showings of the season (20 points, 7-for-12 FG, nine rebounds, two steals and 1 block).

The joy was short-lived, though, as a little more than three minutes later Oklahoma City had already rebuilt a double-digit lead after back-to-back three-pointers from Raymond Felton.

4th Quarter Duel: Westbrook vs. Beal

The Wizards are way too old and way too far down their developmental path to be praised for moral victories. The team gets no participation trophy for continuing to fight in the fourth quarter after the Thunder built their second double-digit lead.

Nevertheless, Bradley Beal’s one-man fourth quarter show was quite impressive. He hit four three-pointers (including a four-point play), a beautiful driving layup, a jumper and two free throws. Everything he tossed up went in.

Beal’s outburst would have been even more impressive if Russell Westbrook had not scored 21 fourth quarter points of his own. Westbrook was unstoppable. He split double teams with ease and punished the rim.

He hit contested jumpers. He sliced through the Wizards’ defense for explosive layups. He even set up his teammates for easy uncontested looks at the rim.

Westbrook ended the quarter shooting 9-for-11 and you got the feeling that no matter how close the Wizards got, Russell would have beat them in the end. On this night, as many others, Russell played Lucy to the Wizards’ Charlie Brown.

Turnovers, Turnovers, Turnovers

Washington was particularly careless with the ball against Oklahoma City and it was not just because of the Thunder’s length. The Wizards threw careless passes on the perimeter and forced unnecessary passes in the lane.

Washington finished with 23 turnovers and it felt like the Thunder converted all of them into fast-break points. You simply cannot give the ball away at that rate when it leads to Russell Westbrook running unimpeded down the court.

Steven Adams, Professional Offensive Rebounder

Washington committed $34 million to three centers and not one of them could keep Steven Adams away from the offensive glass. Adams grabbed seven offensive rebounds in 36 minutes and each one was as demoralizing as the last.

Even when he did not grab the ball, Adams still wreaked havoc. Marcin Gortat was reduced to grabbing and holding Adams on every rebound attempt, at one point swinging Adams to the ground, which caused him to (maybe intentionally) kick his foot into Bradley Beal’s mid-section. Adams received a technical, but he also got two free throws courtesy of Gortat’s takedown.

Gortat ended the game with five fouls and only one rebound in 21 minutes. The lack of production from the Wizards’ starting big man did not go unnoticed by Bradley Beal’s girlfriend:

The tweets have since been deleted but the screenshots live on. And there is undoubtedly a one hundred percent chance that Gortat will find them. Might be time for another team meeting.

No Meeks Means More Beal

Scott Brooks tweaked his lineup a little bit against the Thunder, inserting Jason Smith early in the second quarter for a few minutes, playing extended minutes of small ball with Markieff at center and DNP’ing Jodie Meeks. This is not the first time Brooks has benched Meeks. He’s received a DNP in three of the last seven games. Benching Meeks is understandable, given his 30.5-percent three-point shooting. However, due to the Wizards’ poor roster construction, it presents a unique problem for the Wizards’ rotation.

Meeks is the only shooting guard on the bench. So, if Brooks takes away his 15 minutes per game, he really has no one else to give them to other than Beal. Case in point: Beal played 46 minutes against Oklahoma City. That is not good. This was a regular season game in January in the midst of an 11-day road trip. Plus, it was a game the Wizards lost. It’s great that Beal was on fire (41 points, 15-for-26 FG, 6-for-11 3FG), but his minutes are not sustainable. Beal has played over 39 minutes in six of his last nine games.

Tomas Satoransky can pick up the slack for a little bit in the back-court alongside John Wall, but that is not ideal. Aside from sliding Kelly Oubre into the shooting guard slot for brief stretches, there are no other options for Brooks. The lack of shooting guard depth is a huge problem (again) for the Wizards’ half-court offense and the only solution is for the front office to make a move. The good news is it should not take a first round pick to find a serviceable option. There have to be plenty of energetic, athletic shooters in the G-league who could make use of Washington’s empty roster spot at the end of the bench. Washington needs somebody to fill the “break glass in case of emergency” role that Sheldon Mac was supposed to play this season. And they need to find him fast.

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Adam Rubin
Reporter / Writer at TAI
Adam grew up in the D.C. area and has been a Washington Bullets fan for over 25 years. He will not refer to the franchise as anything other than the Bullets unless required to do so by Truth About It editorial standards. Adam spent many nights at the Capital Centre in the ‘90s where he witnessed such things as Michael Jordan’s “LaBradford Smith game,” the inexcusable under-usage of Gheorghe Muresan’s unstoppable post moves, and the basketball stylings of Ledell Eackles.