Following what could be classified as the Oklahoma City Thunder's worst loss in franchise history, players refused to concede that they overlooked the woeful Washington Wizards.
“Nah,” said Kendrick Perkins. “We always come out and play. I just think we came out worrying about offense instead of defense. We were playing one side (of the court) all night. We just ain't take care of the defensive end.”
The Thunder lost, 101-99, on a miraculous one-handed jumper Wizards rookie Bradley Beal drained with three-tenths of a second remaining. After Russell Westbrook missed a desperation heave, the Wizards and their announced crowd of 16,917 inside Verizon Center celebrated as the stunned Thunder slowly walked off the court, heads hung.
It was only the fifth win for Washington, the league's worst team, in 33 tries this season.
“We didn't play well and they did,” said coach Scott Brooks. “They played inspired basketball. They played hard. They deserved to win the game. There's no way around it. They played better than us.”
Washington upset Oklahoma City for the second straight season in the nation's capital. Last year, the Thunder dropped a 105-102 decision. This time, the Wizards were without their best three players in John Wall, Nene and Jordan Crawford, as well as key reserves Trevor Booker and Cartier Martin.
Wall has yet to play this season, but the other four absent Wizards players account for 47 percent of Washington's offense — an offense that entered the game averaging a league-low 88.9 points yet scored 101 on OKC.
Kevin Durant, who warned an hour before tipoff that the Thunder could lose to any team, came as close as anyone after the game to admitting the Thunder simply didn't reserve the proper level of respect for the injury-depleted Wizards.
“We up seven or eight points and we're letting them stick around just because we're not taking it serious enough,” Durant said. “We can't do that, man. And that falls back on the leaders of the team.”
DURANT VISITS ILL CHILD AREA CHILDREN'S CENTER
Durant on Tuesday made an ill teenage boy's wish come true when he visited him at The Children's Center in Bethany for his birthday.
The Thunder star voluntarily responded to a tweet sent to him by The Children's Center on Monday morning requesting a visit to the center to meet one of his biggest fans.
On Tuesday afternoon, 14-year-old Ramarcus Ervin got a surprise visit from the NBA's three-time scoring champion.
“I wanted to meet Ramarcus as soon as possible,” Durant said in a statement. “I am very blessed I got this opportunity. He's a great kid. To hear people say he's a big fan means a lot to me.”
Ervin, who has limited motor function, requires 24-hour care due to his medical needs and must be on a ventilator. He's been a patient at the center since he was 2 months old.
Durant gave Ervin a pair of autographed signature shoes, a signed Thunder jersey, a signed USA Basketball Olympic jersey and a signed copy of his movie, “Thunderstruck.” Following the visit with Ervin, Durant toured the hospital and met with several other patients as well as employees.
WOLVES WON'T HAVE KEVIN LOVE WEDNESDAY IN OKC
For the third straight game, the Thunder will face a team playing without its best player.
Minnesota power forward Kevin Love has a broken right hand and will miss Wednesday's game against the Thunder. The Timberwolves also have sat point guard Ricky Rubio in recent games because of back spasms. It's unclear if Rubio will play Wednesday.
Oklahoma City also played Washington on Monday without Wall and Toronto on Sunday without Andrea Bargnani.
PERKINS' REBOUNDING PRODUCTION ON THE RISE
One of the biggest criticisms of Perkins has been his lack of rebounding. But lately the Thunder center has increased his production in that department.
Over the past seven games, Perkins has averaged eight rebounds, which includes two season-high 11-rebound efforts over the past four games.
Perkins' improvement has helped the Thunder shoot up to the 10th on the list of the league's best overall rebounding teams and become the seventh-best defensive rebounding team.