thunder 103 wizards 80
3/27/2013 - Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK
NBA.com Game Highlights
With only eight players actually dressed for the game, the Washington Wizards simply had nothing but their pride and dignity to show for against the mighty Oklahoma City Thunder last night.
Despite the 23-point loss, which would generally be considered a blowout, the Wizards didn’t seem to be completely out of sorts facing the Western Conference’s second best team. With a lineup that would seemingly match up better in Summer League competition, the Wizards hung tough as they usually do, but the mismatches were many.
While Randy Wittman struggled to cover 48 minutes with only eight guys, the Thunder soared with all 13 of their active players getting floortime. Ten different OKC players got at least 15 minutes of action, led, of course, by their 2-headed monster in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, who scored 20 and 21 respectively.
Aside from the utter depletion of the Wizards roster, the team could not buy a basket in OKC last night. They shot a miserable 32% from the floor, with John Wall struggling the most, going 3-for-18. Chris Singleton nearly matched Wall’s off-night, going 3-for-12. But although Wall struggled with his shot, he did remain assertive enough to get to the line often, shooting 12-for-15. He finished with 18 points and 12 assists.
The Wizards seemed poised in the early goings of the game. Playing solid defense and making OKC work for their buckets. On offense, Wall was able to penetrate well enough to draw a good amount of fouls, which quickly led to Westbrook’s dismissal to the bench early in the first quarter.
The Wizards were incredibly active on the offensive glass (16 off. reb), which allowed them to stay in the game up until halftime. But the amount of shots they missed ultimately led to OKC slowly pulling away in the second half, as an 8-point deficit for the Wizards turned into 17-points going into the 4th.
The pandemic that has become the Wizards’ injury woes over this last portion of the season has been daunting, but it hasn’t budged the way this team prepares nor has it impacted their effort on the court. I guess that’s all we can work with going into the final stretch of the season, and I’m pretty okay with that. I guess.
Obviously with Trevor Ariza, Martell Webster, Nene and Bradley Beal all out, John Wall’s support system was pretty much nonexistent. Although he managed to cancel out the sore depletion of the roster against the Grizzlies with 47 points on Monday night, we all know that John simply isn’t built for THAT kind of mammoth performance on a nightly basis. He struggled mightily from the field against OKC, missing 15 of 18 shots, but he never let up or backed down, willing his way to the basket and getting to the stripe, where he earned 12 of his 18 points. And the 12 dimes? In a game where the Wizards only made 27 baskets and shot 30 percent for the game? That’s pretty definitive of how well John Wall has operated this offense, even when the offense is at it’s worst.
John Wall: Branching off the last statement I made in the MVP section above, Wall’s statline is pretty indicative of how well he’s been managing this offense, even when they struggle. The huge downside to Wall’s game last night was definitely his jump shooting. But again, Wall isn’t built for carrying teams on his back by putting the ball in the basket, and when his shot is off, it’s hard to salvage when there is literally no other scoring option besides Emeka Okafor and Cartier Martin.
Russell Westbrook: Despite getting two early fouls which sat him out nearly the entire 1st quarter, Westbrook came back in the 2nd, didn’t commit a single foul again, and was the usual force he’s been all his career. In just 25 minutes of play, Westbrook tallied 21 points, with half of them coming from the free throw line.
I’ve been raving about this team’s hustle and efforts and will continue to do so after last night. I believe that this team’s negligence to be demoralized by the lack of talent on the floor due to injuries is huge for the team’s character going into the offseason. Hopeful that this team starts next season in full health, a tough-nosed attitude like the one we’ve been seeing will greatly benefit the team in terms of confidence and momentum. Everyone is playing hard and again, credit Randy Wittman for keeping his guys’ heads up and having them prepared to compete each night.
It sucks to see a team shoot so poorly. 32% shooting for the game is extremely distasteful to watch and makes for one of those nights where you just want the guys to get out of town and regroup ASAP. There really was nothing the Wizards could do but hustle and throw bodies around to generate some sort of opportunity. Hopefully, an upcoming game against the sorry Magic could relieve them of last night’s offputting performance.
The flu bug going around the team has spread from Emeka Okafor, to Trevor Ariza, and now Jason Collins. I’m almost weary to step back into that locker room without a mask around face if these diseases don’t suppress. What’s worse is that this mini-plague hit the team at time that was least convenient, with three starters already nursing real injuries.