The Oklahoma City Thunder fell to the Washington Wizards at home, 116-98. OKC got off to a quick start, but instead of building momentum that should have resulted in a solid victory, they unraveled quarter by quarter, ultimately trailing by 23 in the 4th to a struggling Wizards team that is teetering on the brink of blowing everything up and starting over.
This late-game dunk attempt by Jerami Grant perhaps depicts the Thunder vs the Wiz better than anything else:
Jerami Grant really tried to commit a felony on multiple Wizards pic.twitter.com/fTkPF03dXx— cainelovescali (@cainelovescali) January 7, 2019
It is difficult to overstate how dumb the Thunder played in this contest. It was as if, after jumping out to a quick double-digit lead, they expected the Wizards to give up the ghost and mail it in. And given the Wizards’ record, combined with the fact that John Wall, Dwight Howard, and Markieff Morris didn’t even suit up, the Thunder probably thought they were for some easy sailing.
But this is the NBA for you, and it’s not one of those “any given night a team can get hot” kind of colloquialism. It’s more an “any team can beat themselves if they don’t take the game seriously” kind of thing. And the Thunder surely didn’t. Because it’s not even as if the Wiz played particularly well. They shot 43.6% from the floor, and a poor 10-37 from three. Washington isn’t a good defensive team, as only the Suns, Knicks and Cavaliers are worse. Yet that team was crushing an OKC squad by over 20, and it was the Thunder, not Washington, who were throwing in the towel. It was almost as if Scott Brooks’ game plan was, “There’s a 50% chance Westbrook might implode tonight,” and Scotty won that coin flip.
Aside from the Grant dunkaroo-doink, perhaps the best indication of OKC’s complete lack of focus is how badly they were beaten on the glass. Washington, which is statistically one of the worst rebounding teams this season, out-rebounded the Thunder 55-41, and 16-7 on the offensive glass. By every metric, OKC is the best rebounding team in the league, and yet because of lack of attention to detail, lack of boxing out, and largely a me-first mentality, the Wizards took OKC’s identity and slapped them with it repeatedly.
Three remaining thoughts.
- Steven Adams, who we highlighted in the preview could have been up for a big night, finished the 1st quarter with 10 points on 4-4 shooting. His final stat line? Only two more shots the rest of the game, finishing with 12 on 5-6 shooting overall. Meanwhile, his rookie counterpart? Young Thomas Bryant, the 42nd pick in last year’s draft, was given more opportunities to produce than Adams, and he finished with 14 on 6-8 shooting. In other words, the Thunder players allowed a 2nd round rookie to outplay their All-Star (yeah, I said it) center.
- At halftime, I wondered to myself, “what if OKC worked as hard on offense as they did on defense?
- Is this what the Thunder will look like when Paul George has a substandard game?