After winning 10 straight games, the Oklahoma City Thunder were bound to lose sooner than later. Luckily for the Wizards, that loss would occur tonight in Washington.
John Wall struggled with his shot early on, missing all 7 of his shot attempts in the first half, but he stuffed the stat sheet. Nene and Marcin Gortat had the advantage over Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins, and Wall made sure to utilize his big men early on. Nene made 4 of his first 4 shots, asserting himself right out of the gate. Perkins struggled to keep up with Marcin Gortat, who finished the game with 14 points and 14 rebounds, and it helped Washington grow their lead.
Bradley Beal was awful tonight, making just 3 of his 12 field goal tries, but John Wall made sure to pick up the slack in the second half. Washington’s double digit lead shrunk to just 4 at half-time, but Wall became aggressive on the offensive side of the floor during the third quarter and it was all Wizards from that point on. Wall scored 13 points in the third, knocking down multiple mid-range shots that helped Washington regain a double-digit lead. Once he started to attack the basket, it seemed the Thunder could hope to just trade baskets.
Kevin Durant was held to just 8 of 21 shooting, and he just couldn’t get it going tonight. Granted, tonight was the second game of a back-to-back for Oklahoma City Thunder, but I thought Trevor Ariza did a great job in forcing Durant to take some tough shots. Virtually none of Durant’s made shots were in rhythm and aside from a few runs from Serge Ibaka and Thabo Sefolosha, he didn’t get much help from his teammates. Not only did Ariza help lock Durant down, he contributed to Washington’s upset victory on the offensive side of the floor. He chipped in with 18 points, which were definitely needed since Bradley Beal was struggling with his shot. Games like tonight really help remind me how important Ariza is to Washington. He takes games off defensively, but for the most part, he’s been a really good defender this season. He’s knocking down 3-point shots at a really high rate, and he even mixed it up with a few drives to the basket.
Tonight was a great win for the Wizards, considering that they got contributions from virtually everyone that played. Nene was very solid, scoring 17 points on 8-12 shooting, and he helped swing the momentum with a few powerful dunks. John Wall’s 17 points and 15 assists were as good as you could possibly ask him to play. Despite struggling offensively early on, Wall continued to shoot the ball with confidence and it eventually payed off. Everyone from Garrett Temple to John Wall helped the Wizards win tonight. They’re back at .500 and will have another chance to get above the mark on Monday night against the Portland Trail Blazers.