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Thunder 103, Wizards 80

by Darnell Mayberry Modified: April 12, 2013 at 6:47 pm •  Published: March 28, 2013

Nuggets from my notebook from Wednesday’s win over the Wizards.

  • Washington was without Bradley Beal, Nene, Trevor Ariza, Martell Webster, A.J. Price and Jason Collins. That has to be mentioned first. The Wizards walked into this one without much of a chance.
  • Of course, similar circumstances didn’t stop the Wizards from winning back in January. It helped, however, that they played that ballgame in D.C.
  • With 40 percent of its roster sidelined, the Wizards were reliant on John Wall being out-of-this-world good. And he wasn’t. Credit the Thunder for that. The game plan was to keep Wall out of the paint and make him a jump shooter, and when the Thunder did the Wizards were toast.
  • Wall, a notoriously poor shooter, made just three of 18 shots. Twelve of those misses came from 10 feet and beyond.
  • “They got a lot of guys injured, so we knew (Wall) was going to come out and try to be aggressive,” said Nick Collison. “We just tried to keep a tight paint and not give him a lot of daylight to get to the rim.”
  • With Wall struggling, and Washington without four of its next five best scorers, the Wizards shot just 32.1 percent. They hung around throughout the first half only because they got to the foul line (making 13 of 17) and bullied the Thunder on the boards (racking up 16 second-chance points). It was over when the Thunder began playing defense without fouling in the second half and acted like it knew how to rebound.
  • “I thought we did a good job on the pick-and-roll and helping the helper,” said Thabo Sefolosha. “I think that was the key. Communication has been pretty good the last couple of games and it was good again tonight.”
  • Washington couldn’t have scripted a better start than Russell Westbrook picking up two fouls in the first two minutes, 20 seconds. When that happened, the point guard battle between Westbrook and Wall tilted heavily in favor of the Wizards and it looked then like Wall would take advantage and go off. Sound team defense by the Thunder, though, prevented that from happening.
  • When Westbrook went to the bench, Reggie Jackson popped up. Thank God. Pretty sad that we still aren’t quite sure.
  • Washington led 5-2 when Westbrook went out. The Thunder then went on a 12-3 run. That was the first victory for OKC. Washington had a golden opportunity to take advantage of the Thunder missing one of its All-Stars and failed to do so. Had the Wizards built a lead then they could have gotten some much-needed confidence on the road and used momentum to put some pressure on the Thunder.
  • Jackson had three beautiful slashes to the rim in the first quarter. Again, it was against the depleted Wizards. Still. Why isn’t he allowed to be a spark like that more often?
  • How is Kevin Durant’s rip through not a shooting foul if he’s actually shooting the ball? That’s a dumb rule.
  • Wall gets a lot of calls. A whole lot. The Thunder had eight fouls in the first 11 1/2 minutes of the opening period. Wall had drawn five of them.
  • At the end of the first quarter, Wall had nine foul shots. The Thunder had eight.
  • With that said, the Thunder did a terrible job of playing defense without fouling in the first half.
  • OKC had no answer for the Emeka Okafor tap out early on.
  • Still don’t see why Wall settled for so many jumpers. Sure, the Thunder clogged the paint nicely. But he could have either drove and kicked (which he did pretty well actually) or just passed to the next person. At some point, he had to know it wasn’t his night.
  • Durant’s dunk with 1:44 remaining in the second quarter gave him 12,000 points for his career. He’s now got 12,009.
  • This was the 17th time that the Thunder has held an opponent under 40 percent shooting. OKC is 16-1 in those games. The lone loss came last week at Memphis.
  • I thought for a second that Washington’s 32. 1 percent shooting might be a season-low for the Wizards. It’s not. They shot 29.8 percent in a game against Charlotte. How on earth does a team shoot 29.8 percent against Charlotte?
  • Derek Fisher’s 0-for streak continues. He’s now missed 18 straight shots over the past six games.
  • As our man Berry Tramel pointed out, it’s a sad state of affairs when Fish goes 0-for on a night that Kendrick Perkins made an 18-footer tonight and Hasheem Thabeet swished a 10-footer.
  • As expected, nobody in the Thunder locker room seems concerned with Fish’s current shooting futility. “He hasn’t made shots, that’s no question,” said Scott Brooks. “But the good thing about it, he does so many things for us. He’s a very physical, smart, cerebral defender. He got a couple of steals and he always seems to be in the right spot taking charges. His shots are going to fall. He’s going to get three or four shots a game and there’s going to be a streak where he had earlier in the year where he made nine out of 12. That’s part of being a guy that comes off the bench that’s not going to be a focal point of the offense. I don’t worry about his last shot. I just want him to believe in his next shot.”
  • Wonder what would have happened if old friend Daequan Cook missed 18 straight shots?
  • Westbrook on Fisher’s slump: “He’s got five rings. He’s been in the Finals. I really think he don’t care about missing 18 shots.”
  • Perk on whether the team ever jokingly bust Fish about his current shooting struggles: “You can’t bust nobody with five rings.”
  • I talked to Fisher for a good little while tonight about his current performance. I’ll have a Q&A on it in Friday’s paper and on NewsOK.com sometime Thursday. Essentially, he’s not concerned either. Again, that was to be expected. “I feel like overall I’m good in terms of just coming in and trying to impact the game on a nightly basis,” Fisher said. “Sometimes it’ll be hitting a couple of shots. Other nights it’ll be defending well, creating some havoc on that end and just providing energy and toughness.”
  • I’ll add this one from Fish: “In the role that most of us play for this team, you shouldn’t really measure yourself by percentages or how you’re shooting or whatever. It’s really about how are you impacting the game and if you’re making a positive contribution. We don’t have a problem scoring points. We don’t need another guy worried about how many shots he’s making. We need more guys worried about how many shots we’re going to keep the other team from making.”
  • Up next. At Minnesota on Friday.

-DM-

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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