March 1, 2021

Washington Wizards Game 46 Recap: Wiz get down early and show little life on defense against Thunder

The Washington Wizards’ roster played their hearts out on Saturday night when they beat the Houston Rockets in thrilling fashion to pay tribute to Coach Randy Wittman’s older brother, Rick, who passed away, unexpectedly, earlier that day. While Randy Wittman fought through an emotional day on Saturday to stay with the team and coach, he will be taking a leave of absence that started tonight against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Assistant Don Newman will take over the lead responsibilities over the two game span.

(Photo by: @NBA)

(Photo by: @NBA)

Things were certainly a shootout to start, but then just turned into Oklahoma City making it rain much longer than Washington sustained. Getting down as many as 15 points early in the second quarter put up an impossible obstacle for the Wizards, who simply showed little defensive presence. In less than three quarters of work, Russell Westbrook had himself a triple-double and each of Kevin Durant’s 28 points were daggers to the hearts of all DC sports fans. Getting outrebounded 53-27 over the course of the game was the only stat anybody who did not watch the miserable game needed to know. By the end of the agony, Washington got set to return home following a 114-98 thumping.

John Wall and company got off to as well of a shooting start as you could ask: 6 of 6. However, they also had four turnovers in the first six minutes of the game that translated into seven Thunder points, although they got off to a 9 of 12 start from the field. Don Newman had to burn a timeout but it did not stop a Oklahoma City run that was extended to 15-2. With the big three of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Serge Ibaka combining for 26 points on just 14 field goal attempts in the first quarter, Washington trailed 36-26 after twelve minutes of play.

The defensive intensity was clearly lacking when your opponent is shooting over 70 percent (19 of 27) from the field in the second quarter. On top of giving up outrageous shooting percentages, NBA teams cannot expect to be competitive being outmanned on the glass. Washington trailed in the rebounding department 26-12  including 7-0 on the offensive glass that gave the home team an extra 12 points. The Wizards cut the 15 point deficit to single digits multiple times but 1 of 9 shooting from beyond the arc did not cut it as they trailed 64-52 at intermission.

An 8-0 run early in the third quarter saw the game get interesting with Washington trailing by just six points, but the defense just was not consistent enough to get any closer. A couple poster dunks and three-point plays saw Oklahoma City back up by a comfortable 15 point margin following a 15-6 run. If it were not for turnovers the Thunder would have 100 points going into the fourth quarter. They settled for a 92-76 advantage going into the final session with Westbrook already sitting pretty with a triple-double, his second straight against Washington.

An 11-2 run early in the fourth quarter allowed Washington get back within single digits but the Thunder immediately responded with a 8-0 run to end the game for good. With four 3-pointers in the quarter, more than they had the rest of the game, the Wizards kept things close in the Vegas world where they were +9.5 but were unable to even cover that generous spread. The Thunder won their fourth consecutive game and 11th of last 12 with a 114-98 victory over the woeful Wizards.

Washington will face the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors (44-4) on Wednesday from the Phone Booth at 8 pm in a highly anticpated matchup between point guards John Wall and Stephen Curry.

About Neil Dalal

Neil Dalal is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Redskins, Wizards, and Maryland Terrapins. Neil grew up in Silver Spring, MD and attends the University of Maryland. Neil has loved everything related to the Redskins, Wizards, Capitals, and Terrapins since he was eight years old. However, he favors the Orioles, as he started watching baseball before the Expos moved to DC. You can follow Neil on Twitter @NeilDalal96.

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