Thunder 88, Wizards 83
It's easy to look at the final score, see that the Wizards failed to make a field goal in the final 3 minutes, 17 seconds remaining, and think the Wizards lost simply because they couldn't execute down the stretch. That's only part of the problem. The real reason the Wizards lost was because the team let down its guard during a sloppy six-minute stretch in the third quarter.
Andray Blatche brought the Wizards within 52-50 with 8:07 remaining in the third quarter, but Thabo Sefolosha, whom the Thunder acquired from the Chicago Bulls at the trade deadline, and reserve Damien Wilkins combined to outscore the Wizards 16-8 and took a 68-58 lead with 1:46 remaining in the period when Wilkins nailed a pull-up three-pointer. The Wizards came back to take the lead on a few occassions in the fourth quarter, but as Dominic McGuire said, "We shouldn't have fell down in the third quarter; that was big."
After the game, Nick Young applied a bag of ice to his left cheek, which was swollen after he received an elbow from Nick Collison with 1:25 remaining and the Wizards trailing by one point. Young lost the ball on the play and had to get yanked. On the Thunder's next possession, Collison rebounded a Sefolosha miss, setting up Russell Westbrook's key jumper with 33.3 seconds remaining.
"It kind of knocked me out," Young said of Collison's elbow. "I lost the ball, but I got elbowed. It's hard. We had the momentum going. Being a player that can create, I just wanted to be out there. But I really couldn't be out there, my vision was a little blurry."
Even without Caron Butler, this was one game on this trip that the Wizards really should've had -- especially with Kevin Durant and Jeff Green sidelined with injuries. But once again, bad teams find ways to lose games, even against other bad teams.
"I don't think it was confidence," McGuire said. "We didn't make plays."
The most interesting thing about this game is the progress of the Thunder. When the Wizards beat the Thunder on Dec. 27, it dropped Oklahoma City's record to just 3-28. Since then, the Thunder has gone 13-17. That's some serious progress.
Think about that. The Thunder has won 13 of its past 30 games while the Wizards have won just 14 of their 61 games all season. Since beating the Thunder back in December, the Wizards have gone 8-24. The Wizards have lost of couple of players since then -- Etan Thomas, DeShawn Stevenson -- but it's hard to find real, tangible progress right now.
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