Thunder Basketball

Thunder Can’t Stop Beal, Wizards 116-98

Thunder Can’t Stop Beal, Wizards 116-98

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — Playing their fifth game in the last week, the Oklahoma City Thunder (25-14) look fatigued. The energy present in the first four minutes of the game tonight vanished quickly. Another positive start to the second half that gave the Thunder a small lead would also not be sustained.

“I don’t think we played well enough to put ourselves in a position to win the game,” Billy Donovan said afterwards. “We were outplayed tonight. We didn’t do anything well.”

The Thunder were soundly defeated 116-98 in their first blowout loss since November 12th when they lost by 15 to the Dallas Mavericks.

“82 games,” Russell Westbrook said in the locker room. “If you think you’re going to play well every night, you’ve got another thing coming.”

Oklahoma City’s first quarter appeared to be the beginning of yet another dominant victory over another team below .500. The Washington Wizards (16-24), losers of six of their last nine games, had no where to go as the Thunder’s defense swarmed to the ball.

Steven Adams, who had an abysmal offensive night in Oklahoma City’s thrilling victory in Portland two nights ago, was active in that stretch. The Thunder’s big man was a perfect 4-for-4 from the floor, scoring 10 points.

After the impressive start, Oklahoma City held an 18-7 lead at the 5:41 mark of the first quarter. Unfortunately for the Thunder, that’s when the Wizards made their run to take control of the game.

From there, Washington went on a 21-7 run. The energy, crisp offensive play and stifling defense fell off a cliff.

Bradley Beal started cooking. With 18 points in the first 20 minutes of the game, Beal’s shooting and ball movement helped build a rhythm for the Wizards that Oklahoma City was unable to fully keep under control.

By the end of the half, that 21-7 run ballooned to a 47-32 run, leading to a four point deficit for the Thunder heading to the locker room. Make no mistake, Oklahoma City was being outplayed despite being only down four.

As most tired teams perform, the Thunder once again started hot but quickly cooled down in the third quarter. An 8-2 start gave Oklahoma City their final lead of the game as the Wizards continued to run their offense. After three, the Thunder trailed 90-79, a lead that would explode to 20 midway through the fourth quarter.

From there, the Thunder raised the white flag and sat all the starters.

Beal finished with 25 points, the game’s high scorer, but did so on 27 shots. Terrance Ferguson was his primary defender throughout the game.

“He was great tonight,” Donovan said of Ferguson. “If someone is going to score 25 points and take 27 shots to do it, we will take that every time.”

Westbrook finished with his 12th triple-double on the season with 22 points, 15 rebounds and 13 assists. His eight turnovers plagued the Thunder’s offense when the game was in doubt.

“We know what we are capable of,” Westbrook added. “We just take this one and move on to the next.”

Oklahoma City will stay home and take on the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday. Minnesota came into Chesapeake Energy Arena two nights before Christmas and got an upset victory.

 

 

Thunder Basketball
@BradyDoesSports

Brady has covered the Oklahoma City Thunder since 2016. University of Oklahoma alum class of 2014. He has worked for the Franchise since April 2018. Co-Host of the OKC-82 Podcast. Member of the Basketball Insider's Show.

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