Washington, D.C.— The Oklahoma City Thunder (4-4) won their fourth consecutive game in a blowout victory against the Washington Wizards (1-7), 134-111.
Russell Westbrook led the charge for the Thunder as he finished with a double-double (23 points and 12 assists) on 10-for-16 shooting. He also had four steals on the night. However, there were some key factors in this game that lead to the OKC victory. Let’s go through them.
One of the main reasons Oklahoma City was able to cruise to a blowout victory was because they simply hit shots. As a team, the Thunder have not been shooting well from the field, downtown or the foul line. That all changed tonight as they shot 57 percent from the field, 46 percent from beyond-the-arc, and 80 percent from the line.
You wouldn’t think that Oklahoma City, who came into the game shooting a league-worst 26 percent from three, would be so confident in letting it go from the great beyond. However, once the Thunder hit their first five threes of the game, they gained confidence and luckily continued to see the ball go through the net.
Secondly, the knock on the Thunder so far this season has been that neither Westbrook nor Paul George is going to have any help from the “others”. Well, the others showed up in a big way in the contest. The duo of Westbrook and George combined for 40 of Oklahoma City’s 134 points and George didn’t make his first field goal until the 2:22 mark of the second quarter. In addition, the rest of the team combined for 94, including 48 points coming from the bench alone.
When you can have guys like Jerami Grant give you 22 points and Dennis Schroder gives you 16 off the bench and Terrance Ferguson knocks down his threes, you’re in for a good night if you’re OKC.
Now, will this be every game for the Thunder? You’d hope so but probably not. However, you want to have games like this, especially early in the season so that you know that as a team you can have nights where everyone can get involved and knock down shots. It instills confidence within your team and it sets the bar for how you should come in night in and night out.
Lastly, Oklahoma City was complete ball hawks on the defensive end. The Thunder, who come into this season first in forcing turnovers (19 forced turnovers per game), scored 26 points off of 19 Wizards turnovers. The police should’ve been on speed dial as the Thunder had 13 steals on the night. They did a fantastic job playing aggressively on the defensive end without fouling and did a great job rebounding the basketball which helps them push the pace and have complete control of the ball game from the second quarter till the final buzzer.
Now for Washington… they may have to make a decision between John Wall and Bradley Beal. The team falls to 1-7 and it seems neither one of them will make a stand and try to change the complexion of the slow start.
Once Washington trailed by 29 going into halftime, Wizards fans began to boo, the players began to hang their heads and the team would just go through the motions waiting for the game to end. If you have two leaders of a team that are both great players and All-Stars, you can’t be okay with this. From yourselves or the team.
Twelve of the Wizards 19 turnovers came from Wall and Beal in this ball game. That’s not okay. The city of Washington shouldn’t be okay with it. Honestly, this should be one of the better backcourts in the league. However, to have your two stars allow the season to start like this, it may be time to think who do you move?
The Wizards organization has been more than patient and has let this develop between the duo for long enough and thought that this team would be further along. Yet, you’ve had nothing to show for it. There have been flashes where you’ve seen greatness from the duo but a dead clock is right twice a day… eventually, you’re going to need a new clock.
Now Dwight Howard made his debut tonight and had a good showing with 20 points. He had 19 of those points in the first half… he finished the game with 20 points. Only one point in the second half is unacceptable.
But, he was reportedly on a minutes restriction. Howard will bring a new dynamic to the team. A big body inside that can catch lobs and grab a lot of rebounds although he finished with only three tonight. The Wizards haven’t had a guy that can do the things Howard can do in a long time. Hopefully, as Howard gets more minutes, you’ll see a shift in the playstyle of Washington.
The Thunder will face the New Orleans Pelicans on Nov. 5. On the opposing end, the Wizards will be at home against the New York Knicks on Nov. 4.