In their first game after finding out John Wall would be out for 6-8 weeks, the Washington Wizards came out and earned a hard fought win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. For possibly the first time this season, the Wizards played with the type of hunger and effort that was indicative of their success last season. These two teams met last week in Oklahoma City and the Thunder won at home. The Wizards got a chance to avenge that loss and did so last night with a 102-96 win. Otto Porter Jr led the way with 25 points, Bradley Beal had 21 points and Markieff Morris chipped in with 18 points. It took a total team effort to beat Oklahoma City and several players chipped in. The Thunder were led by Paul George with 28 points and Carmelo Anthony had 19 points. The reigning Most Valuable Player finished with 13 points, 10 assists, and 6 rebounds
Neither team shot the ball very well on the evening, but Washington gained separation in the fourth period on that end of the floor. They held the Thunder to just 31% shooting from the floor, Washington shot 47% and got to the line 10 times, knocking down all of their free throw attempts.
The game was tied at 96 with 56.3 seconds left, Westbrook had given his team a two point lead with a layup and Beal returned he the favor. The Wizards got a huge stop defensively on the ensuing defensive possession. Josh Huestis got the ball on the wing and attacked the basket, but he was looking to pass. Tomas Satoransky had rotated down into the paint and he stole the drop-down pass. He then hit both free throws to give his team a two point lead, after a timeout, the Thunder got another offensive possession. Again, Washington would get another stop and hit free throws. This would happen yet again a possession later, the Wizards defense was exceptional down the stretch.
Paul George scored 20 points in the first half, then scored 8 points in the third quarter. He played five minutes in the fourth quarter and didn’t attempt a shot. Westbrook went just 1-of-5 from the floor in the fourth period and Anthony shot 2-of-7 from the floor and missed all three of his attempts from distance. Otto hit a few big shots in the fourth, scoring 8 points. Morris chipped in with 6 points in the period along with 5 points from Mike Scott.
It was an extremely physical game from start to finish, the Wizards jumped out to a lead in the first period by playing good defense. However, Oklahoma City got back into it late in the quarter with 12 points from George and 7 from Steven Adams. Still, Washington shot 71% from beyond the arc and 52% from the floor. The Thunder were extremely fortunate to be down just five. The Wizards ball movement was impressive in the period, that was evident as three players scored 7 points a piece.
The momentum seemed to be trending the Thunder’s way in the second period, they held Washington to just 27% shooting. Again, George led the way scoring 8 more points to get his total to 20 by the half. Jerami Grant gave Oklahoma City big minutes, scoring 8 points and grabbing 4 rebounds. He also did a good job of protecting the rim for his team, blocking one shot and altering a few others. The only bad thing that happened for the visitors was Billy Donavan and Russell Westbrook receiving technicals. Washington was carried by Otto and Brad, they scored 6 and 8 points respectively in a down quarter for Washington. Despite their horrid shooting, they held a one point lead heading into the half before Grant hit a runner as time expired.
The third quarter saw both teams trade baskets and showed several stretches of sloppy play. Carmelo had struggled with his shot most of the night, but he had 9 points in the period. It seemed he was trying to find his rhythm from deep, but he got to the line by attacking the basket off the low block and it paid off. There was a time in the third where it seemed Westbrook was going to get going, but the Wizards did a good job of playing team defense and not fouling him. Marcin Gortat was big for Washington, scoring 7 of his 11 points when needed. Washington built a 7 point lead at one point, but the Thunder didn’t go away and the lead changed hands six times.
It was a quality win for Washington, especially considering the type of effort they turned in. Satoransky didn’t have the biggest night from a box score standpoint, but he played great defense against Westbrook. His teammates played a big role in helping as well, defensively it was a very good performance by Washington. They host the Raptors Thursday night, losing Wall may have been a blessing in disguise if Washington finally starts to play with the hunger and effort from last season. Still, it’s a good start down a long road without their All-Star point guard.