The Oklahoma City Thunder came into Capital One Arena on the second night of a back-to-back, yet they looked like the fresher team in their rout of the Washington Wizards. Stifling defense and playing with a sense of togetherness was evident as they overcame a 10 point deficit to take a lead that hit 30 points at one point. Five different players scored at least 10 points for Oklahoma City, with Russell Westbrook and Jerami Grant scoring 23 and 22 points respectively. Grant, a DMV native showed out in his one visit home this season by recording a career high.
As for the Wizards, there wasn’t much if any positives to take away from this one. The issues continued on the defensive end, where no one seemed to be on the same page. Dwight Howard scored 20 points in his season debut, while Bradley Beal led the team with 27 points. Washington turned the ball over 18 times, 14 of those came in the first half when the game got away from them.
The Wizards started the game with energy and enthusiasm, their offense was crisp and efficient en route to hitting their first seven shots. Howard started things off with a dunk and hit the ensuing free throw to covert the three point play. There was a glimpse of solid defense, the stops allowed the Wizards to take a 10 point lead. The crowd was enjoying what appeared to be a look at what this team could be, then it all went bad. Turnovers and atrocious defense led to transition layups and uncontested dunks and layups for Oklahoma City. They erased the 10 point deficit and were able to take a five point lead by the end of the period.
One of the turning points in this game was near the end of the first quarter when Scott Brooks took the starters out. The second unit entered the game with the score being tied at 30. Once the starters came back, the Wizards were down 12.
The Thunder sensed the blood in the water and continued to attack, the turnovers continued for Washington. They turned the ball over eight times in the second quarter as Oklahoma seized control of the game. Westbrook and George started to get in on the fun and the lead ballooned, the Wizards looked lost and just plain uninterested on the defensive end of the floor.
The Wizards started to some fight midway through the third period, but it didn’t last. The key reason being they weren’t able to get consecutive, let any stops on the defensive end. It’s not possible to trade baskets when down by five and regain a lead let alone a 20 plus point deficit. At the end of three, the Thunder led 110-85.
This loss brings Washington to the bottom of the standings in the Eastern Conference with a 1-7 record. They’re tied with the Cleveland Cavaliers, the loss to Oklahoma City also extends Washington’s losing streak to five games. This slow start in a year that began with the mantra of “No Excuses” may lead to decisions being made about the team’s personnel. It’s one thing to suffer a loss like this, an added layer to it being that this was one of Washington’s nationally televised games. There’s reason to wonder if there will be any changes in the coming days or weeks for the Wizards, but the’ll have to get over this loss and focus on righting the ship. If it can be righted. The Thunder compete hard for four quarters and the next team to head into D.C. does the same. The Knicks may not be as talented, but they play hard for Fizdale and aren’t going to make things easy on this listless Wizards team.