So, I'm sure you're all busy recovering from the hangover that last night wrought upon us all. Not only did the SEC win its' 7th straight championship, but our beloved Thunder lost a game to arguably the worst team in the league, the Washington Wizards. Now, before anyone panics, remember the old adage.
Anyway, here's the list of reasons, in no particular order.
1. Horrible Paint Defense
With Jordan Crawford, the Wizards primary scorer, out for the night, the Wizards decided to make a concerted effort to get the ball into the post whenever they had a half-court set. Somehow, it managed to work perfectly. Emeka Okafor was hitting bank shots, Kevin Seraphin had a nice hook shot, and even Jan Vesely was able to drudge in a couple of gimmes. The trio combined for 41 of the team's points while shooting 50%. Now, I make this a point of emphasis because they all handily beat their normal averages, and the Thunder looked extremely poor in stopping them. Perkins kept Okafor away from the basket, but he couldn't challenge his shot. Ibaka was getting worked into the paint too easily. The backup bigs were an especially huge disaster, with Collison adding nothing and Thabeet allowing countless points with soft defense.
2. Poor Lineup Management
This goes along with what I said in reason #1. Scott Brooks did a good thing by keeping Thabeet out of the game after his initial stint, but going small late in the third and in the first half of the fourth wasn't the greatest decision of all time. The Thunder managed to gain no traction offensively during that time, and they were atrocious defensively. The Thunder allowed four offensive rebounds before Perkins was subbed in, gave up easy post position, and fouled a bit too much.
I'm not trying to hate on Liggins specifically here. But this just wasn't the right situation to put him in. Liggins is a great energetic defensive guy to put in if you're having a problem with a particular player. But in this situation, where the Wizards were distributing the ball well, he brought nothing to the table, because his offensive skillset just isn't at an NBA level.
This is nothing new for Russell. But tonight, he took bad shot selection to a whole new level. All of his threes were off-the-dribble heat checks that continually confirmed he was ice cold. Moreover, his two point attempts were equally horrible, usually coming up as way off-balance and out of rhythm because he tried to force the shot. It was like he was willing to get good shots for other players, but let no one create a good shot for him.
However, for Kevin Martin, this was a rather unusual game. The guy was clearly forcing shots when he really didn't need to. He released a lot of well-guarded threes, often stuck behind the line because his signature head-fake didn't make the defender jump. He also had a few ill-advised step-back jumpers and drives to the hoop. Luckily, he was pulled in the fourth quarter after going 0-5.
Sometimes, a guy just carries the team. It happened on Sunday afternoon in Toronto, when Antonio Anderson decided to put on the cape. Tonight, Martell Webster didn't do that at all. In fact, other than his late game four point play, I'd say his overall day was average. But KD's day on defense was just horrible. Early on, he was leaving Webster wide open for jumpers that a good scorer would have made. Later on, KD was too quick to leave his feet and was still leaving Webster wide open for jumpers. All in all, Webster would have easily broken 30 if he had taken everything that was given to him. Meanwhile, Durant's added pressure led nowhere, as the Wizards simply equaled their season average for turnovers.
5. Would You Like Some Beal?
Sometimes, you've just got to admire a great play. Welcome to the NBA, Bradley Beal.
Have another idea as to why the Thunder lost? Let us know in the comments!