If you are a glass-half-empty type, then the Washington Wizards blew opportunities to win their first road game last night in Oklahoma City.
If you are a glass-half-full type, then they left everything on the floor and almost beat one of the elite teams in the western conference, despite missing a key starter and sixth man paired with superstar performances from Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
Both views are correct, and the bottom line remains that the Wizards are getting very close to setting the NBA record for most losses on the road to start the season.
It was a seesaw game that saw Washington jump out to a first quarter lead, trail at halftime, lead at the end of the third quarter, only to end up going into overtime and ultimately lose thanks to Durant scoring 10 of his game-high 40 points in the second OT. Russell Westbrook continued to show why he isn't just an all-star caliber player, but is becoming arguably the best point guard in the game with his 35 point-13 rebound-13 assist outing- his third triple double of the season.
Nick Young lead the Wizards in scoring with 32 points, including a shot with 13.1 seconds that sent the game into overtime. However, he missed a chance to win the game at the end of the first overtime in an awkward attempt that fell short.
After holding a brief lead in the second overtime, Durant drove to the basket and scored while drawing the foul on Trevor Booker, and converting the three-point play. Oklahoma City never looked back after that as Durant followed up with a three-point jumper and Washington had no response. The Wizards' deficit grew and the life was sucked out of them as they were outrun, outhustled, and outplayed to a tune of 14-7 second overtime beating.
There were several bright spots, including the play of forward Trevor Booker. Though he ended up fouling out in the second overtime, he managed to score 21 points and grab 12 rebounds (five offensive) in place of starting center JaVale McGee who was out with the flu. Booker also shot an impressive 9-11 from the field.
Despite all of the starters getting into double figures, the bench was of little help. Al Thornton provided six points but little else in the box score. Without Kirk Hinrich (injured elbow), the bench wasn't able to provide the extra energy that the Wizards desperately needed, particularly in the second overtime.
John Wall played a game-high 52 minutes (tied with Nick Young), but had a very tough time shooting the ball, hitting only 5 of his 19 attempts en route to 13 points. He had 10 assists and 5 rebounds to go along with his points, but spent most of the game trying everything in the book to slow down Westbrook. His efforts were to no avail as on this night, Westbrook showed that experience can be more valuable than raw talent. The two point guards are similar when it comes to speed and explosiveness, but Westbrook has an extra year in the league and knew exactly what he wanted to do and which spots he wanted to attack.
The Wizards will take their 0-22 road record to Memphis tonight, who will be playing without suspended guard, O.J. Mayo. Though their legs will probably be fatigued after playing basically one and a half game against Oklahoma City, plus having to take a flight to Memphis, this is a golden opportunity to get the ever elusive first road victory. The first quarter will be an indicator of whether they have the energy or not.
Some say that losing teams find ways to lose, whether it is in a blowout or a double overtime heartbreaker. Hopefully for Wizards fans, the team can shed that stigma and put to rest the road record black cloud that has hung over them, once and for all.
(Photo Credit: Getty Images, Layne Murdoch)