Perhaps an emotional hangover was to be expected for the Thunder after Saturday’s events, and it seemed to weigh heavy on them as they lost 120-98 to former coach Scott Brooks and his Wizards squad. The Thunder missed 24 straight shots at one point in the game, going scoreless for an entire 12 minutes and four seconds.
“I think as a player that’s the hardest part when you play 82 games,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. “Can you come back and really be focused and locked in and play at that emotional level that you’re capable of?
“We were not there. I certainly have seen us there before, but tonight was not a night that I felt was there.”
Russell Westbrook’s assessment was a little more concise:
”We just didn’t play hard.”
The Thunder certainly were laggards compared to the Washington Wizards, who have been among the NBA’s most efficient teams over the last month or so and have won 19 of 20 at home. Washington shot 57.5% from the field and 62% from three. Not only was the offense absent from the Thunder — the defense was as well.
“Whatever the emotional part of it was for us, what ends up happening is, generally you don’t shoot well on nights like that,” Donovan said. “That’s when you got to really fall back on your defense. What made it really difficult tonight is we didn’t shoot the ball well and we didn’t defend at a high enough level against a team that scores from all five spots.”
On defense, the Wizards were able to make Russell Westbrook uncomfortable, baiting him into careless jumpers and wild, flailing drives to the rim. Westbrook ended the game with just 17 points on 5-of-19 shooting in 24 minutes.
”The focus was to stop Westbrook. Obviously, if you cut the head, the body will fall with that team,” Wizards forward Markieff Morris said.
Joffrey Lauvergne tied Westbrook for the Thunder’s leading scorer with 17, adding six rebounds and four assists. Cam Payne was the only other Thunder player to score in double digits with 12 points.
For the Wizards, John Wall orchestrated the offense masterfully with 15 points and 14 assists. Markieff Morris led the way with 23 points and shooting 3-for-3 from deep. Bradley Beal also put on a shooting display, scoring 22 points on 6-of-7 three pointers.
The Thunder fall to 31-25, while the Wizards improve to 33-21. The Thunder take on the Knicks tomorrow evening at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Tipoff is at 8:30.