Spells checked

The Thunder had been having trouble with the Wizards when the Wizards were lousy. Now the Wizards aren’t lousy at all — they were 22-9 and third in the East coming into this game — but the Thunder still had trouble with them, largely because of the three-ball, which Washington wielded with considerable skill and accuracy, right up until the very end, when the Wiz cut an OKC eight-point lead to three in a matter of seconds. Russell Westbrook, who’d already had enough of these Wizards — he’d tightened his hold on the season technical-foul lead — lay in the weeds, and when the Wiz looked like they were going to tie it up, promptly stole the ball. He couldn’t convert, but Serge Ibaka showed up for the putback. With 12 seconds left, Westbrook took it away again, and this time the bucket was good, and one. With 5.9 left, Westbrook looked like he knocked John Wall upside the head; it was a foul OKC had to give, Scott Brooks sent in the reserves just for spite, the last Wizard trey didn’t go, and Ish Smith (!) retrieved the last rebound to secure a 109-102 win.

Still, Washington made 11 of 21 treys, and were 13-15 from the stripe, which is some pretty decent shooting by any standards. (They were 39-84 from the floor, a decent 46 percent.) And six Wizards, including four starters, hit double figures, led by Bradley Beal with 21; Wall added 14, and stalwarts Nene and Paul Pierce had a dozen apiece. (The twin guards posted double-doubles for the night, Beal seizing ten boards, Wall serving up 12 assists.) The Washington bench, we must note, also has sharpshooters: the well-traveled Andre Miller and Rasual Butler knocked down 15 and 11 respectively.

And it takes someone like Westbrook, I think, to turn a perfectly dreadful night into a decent line: 8-23 shooting, but still 22 points, six dimes, only two turnovers. Of course, he got to play with Kevin Durant for the whole game for once, and KD had an effortless (12-18) 34 points that, upon second look, actually were a hell of a lot of work. Ibaka had another one of those Wat? nights: 13 points, six boards — two fewer than Durant — and nary a swat. Reggie Jackson, who’d been missing treys for weeks, got one (of two) to go; but Nick Collison (10 points, five rebounds) was the official Bench Leader.

The .500 Club has finally opened up. (The Pelicans put the bite on the Rockets, so no real ground was gained.) Monday night, the Thunder are at Oakland for another shot at Golden State; there follow road games at Sacramento, Utah and Houston.





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