Few were tougher than Beal's. After Durant capped a 10-point, fourth-quarter comeback with a 3-pointer from the left wing that tied the score at 99-all with 36.5 seconds remaining, the Wizards got the ball back with an upset in mind. A.J. Price missed a jump shot, but the ball went out of bounds off the Thunder with 12.2 seconds remaining. That gave Washington a chance for the final shot.
Beal, who was being defended by Thabo Sefolosha, used a high ball screen from Kevin Seraphin and it resulted in a favorable matchup for Washington when Thunder center Kendrick Perkins switched onto the 6-foot-5 Wizards guard. Beal immediately went to work, going left into a two-dribble pull-up. Both Perkins and a helping Sefolosha bit on a pump fake, allowing Beal to duck underneath Perkins and lean in for the off-balanced game-winner.
“Looking back, we probably shouldn't have switched,” Sefolosha said.
Add that breakdown to the long list of Thunder mistakes.
Oklahoma City never led by more than seven points. At halftime, the Thunder was ahead by just two. Entering the fourth, the Thunder trailed by three.
“We gave them a lot of confidence early, and down the stretch they hit tough shots to win the game,” said Kendrick Perkins.
Turnovers and poor defensive rebounding burned the Thunder in the fourth quarter. OKC allowed six offensive rebounds, which led to 12 second-chance points. And the Thunder had three turnovers in the period's first six minutes, punctuating a shocking stretch of stagnancy.
“I think we've improved in that area quite a bit this season, but it snuck up on us,” Brooks said of the rickety defensive rebounding.
All that kept the Thunder from getting embarrassed was its ability to get to the free throw line in the fourth quarter. OKC made 12 of 14 from the foul line in the final frame but simply couldn't stop the Wizards at the other end.
After the Thunder players walked of the court, most of them with their heads hung, the silence in the locker room lingered long after what had just took place. Many were slow to hit the showers and even slower to get dressed.
If they didn't believe it before the game, reality surely had set in afterward.
“We can be beat by anybody,” Durant said.