“They just played harder than us,” said forward Kevin Durant.
In what has become a recurring theme for Thunder opponents through the first 15 games, Washington bullied Oklahoma City on the boards, out-rebounding the Thunder 52-43, including an eye-popping 19-6 advantage on the offensive end. Wizards center JaVale McGee (game-high 11 rebounds) and power forward Andray Blatche (10 rebounds) both finished with double-digit rebound performances. Together, they had more offensive rebounds (nine) than the Thunder had as a team.
That inability to close out possessions, coupled with poor offense that was defined by a lack of ball movement (15 assists) and too many turnovers (21) ultimately is what doomed the Thunder.
In spite of it all, OKC had one final chance to tie the game in the closing seconds. Durant, however, saw his 27-foot 3-point attempt from the top of the arc bounce off the right of the iron with 1.9 seconds remaining, trickling the final seconds off the clock as teammate Thabo Sefolosha scrambled for a rebound. Though from a different spot, it was the same shot, off the same play, that Durant drilled at the buzzer against Dallas on Dec. 29. This time, though, the Wizards fought harder through the double screen set by James Harden and Kendrick Perkins and forced Durant into a second option rather than a rhythmic catch-and-shoot.
“I still got a wide-open look,” Durant said. “I just happened to not make it. It happens, man.”
It wasn't supposed to, a loss like this.
Not this year.