Regular Season Recap: Thunder at Wizards
4 Blocks for Serge Ibaka, in addition to 14 points on 6-for-12 shooting and eight rebounds
7 Assists for Kevin Durant on the night, in addition to five rebounds
8 Rebounds for Reggie Jackson, tying a team-high, in addition to 12 points, four assists and two steals
15 Consecutive made baskets for Serge Ibaka spanning the past three games, the longest streak in Thunder history
21 Bench points for the Thunder, led by six each for Jeremy Lamb and Derek Fisher
25-17 Scoring advantage for the Thunder in the second quarter when it got back into the game
26 Points for Kevin Durant, including 10-for-10 shooting from the free throw line
27-for-54 The Thunder’s shooting numbers in the paint on the night, good for 50 percent
GAME IN REVIEW
By Nick Gallo, Thunder Basketball Writer
Feb. 1st, 2014
WASHINGTON, DC – In the opening minutes the ball seemed to be squirting out of Thunder players’ hands, and those tough bounces on drives and passes prevented the team from building any rhythm.
In a 96-81 loss on the road in the final game of a stretch of eight games in 12 nights, including six of the last seven on the road, the Thunder fell to the Washington Wizards due to a strong effort by Washington and a subpar performance by Head Coach Scott Brooks’ club. 21 turnovers on the night, including a whopping ten in the first quarter set the tone for the Thunder, who battled back but couldn’t find the gear of elite play it showed during the ten-game winning streak it rode into Washington on Saturday.
“We’ve been a lot better with the turnovers but tonight it got away from us,” Brooks said. “We didn’t do a lot of things that we’ve done on this road trip.”
“Tonight the turnovers gave them opportunities to score in transition and it didn’t give us a chance to get a rhythm offensively,” Brooks explained. “We had a couple of sparks throughout the game but it wasn’t consistent enough to win this game.”
The Thunder got on the board first thanks to a jumper that splashed through for Serge Ibaka, giving him 15 consecutive made baskets spanning three games, a Thunder record. Besides that shot, however, the Thunder turned the ball over three times on its first four possessions, resulting in a 12-0 burst for Washington that built the Thunder a ten-point deficit before the eight-minute mark.
Behind a grind-it-out mentality, the Thunder managed to gut its way back into this one not once but twice. Kevin Durant’s leadership along with 26 points and seven assists guided the Thunder all the way back to within 35-34 after Reggie Jackson hit Durant for a dunk on a nice bounce pass in a three-on-one fast break.
A quick 7-2 burst by Washington to end the half stalled the Thunder’s 14-0 run to get back into contention. After halftime, it was nearly an identical pattern, but the Wizards delivered a knockout blow in the form of an 18-4 run to end the third quarter.
“We had too many tough stretches,” Durant explained. “We started the game badly, then tied the game up but we didn’t have a good two minutes going into the half. We started the third bad, then picked it back up in the middle, then at the end they stretched the lead.”
After an impressive stretch where the Thunder seemingly raised its level of play with each successive outing, Durant and company didn’t quite have it on either end of the floor on Saturday. While in the course of an 82-game regular season, nights like this are bound to occur, the Thunder holds itself to such high standards, that fact of NBA life doesn’t serve as an excuse.
Holding themselves and one another accountable at all times, Durant and his teammates continue to reinforce and set the bar for performance even higher with each outing on the floor. Tonight’s loss showed the Thunder a few areas where it can clean up- namely execution and valuing the basketball- but also gives perspective on the level of play it takes to win in the NBA, something the Thunder has grown very accustomed to putting on the floor each night. Durant said after the game that this is a moment the team can learn and grow from, with the guidance of Brooks, himself and other veterans.
“We were just a step slow on everything,” Durant said. “We didn’t start off with enough energy and intensity. That falls back on me as a leader. I have to inspire my guys with my energy and effort. I have to do a better job.”
A 12-0 Wizards run early in the first quarter set the tone for the night, but the Thunder battled back, eventually pulling to within one point of the lead both in the second and third quarters. The second time around, the Wizards made a run right back at Head Coach Scott Brooks’ club that went unanswered. Trailing just 58-57 with 4:21 left in the third period, the Thunder was in good shape to make this one interesting, but an 18-4 Wizards run over the ensuing four minutes put the game away.
The burst started with two Martell Webster free throws and was highlighted by three straight easy buckets at the rim, one for John Wall and two for Marcin Gortat, both set up by Wall. The Wizards point guard then hit a jumper before assisting on three more shots that extended the run, a Gortat layup and two buckets from Trevor Ariza. In all, Wall had five assists and two buckets during the stratch, accounting in some way to all 18 points of the surge.
PLAYS THE BOX SCORE DOESN'T SHOW, FIRST HALF:
Kevin Durant spins as the defense double teams him, finding Serge Ibaka in a perfect spot to hit a jumper. Ibaka roams the lane and forces a tough missed shot to help the Thunder regain possession. Reggie Jackson boxes out a much taller man to free up the defensive rebound for a teammate. Incredible pump fake from Jackson to get his man off of his feet and free up a driving lane. Steven Adams slides over in help side defense and saves a bucket. Strong individual defense by Durant forces a Wizards air ball and shot clock violation.
PLAYS THE BOX SCORE DOESN'T SHOW, SECOND HALF:
Ibaka’s box out and tip out gives a teammate a rebound. Beautiful drive-and-dish from Durant to Sefolosha in the corner, as the Thunder forward used his vision to make the right play. Nick Collison repeatedly tips a loose offensive rebound to himself, regaining possession. Adams fights for two consecutive offensive rebounds, giving the Thunder extra looks at the basket, eventually resulting in a layup.
“We expect to play at a high level every night. Some nights it’s not going to happen, but you have to figure out ways to do that tonight. That’s part of being in the NBA. You have to come up with ways to give yourselves a chance to win.” – Head Coach Scott Brooks