(Bradley Beal's game winning GIF, courtesy of SBNation/BulletsForever)
A night after one local rookie hero goes down, another local rookie hero steps up. Bradley Beal had a night to remember against the OKC Thunder, displaying the assertiveness and poise we’ve recently grown accustomed to seeing out of the top pick. Beal scored 22 points, knocking down 5 of 7 from behind the arc, including an incredible 4-point play from the corner off his back foot. It was that kind of night for Beal.
But let’s go back to the game winner. It seemed like a broken play once two OKC defenders closed in on Beal as he pulled up for the 17-footer. But his blossoming pro basketball awareness was in full effect as his pump fake was good enough to throw off both Kendrick Perkins and Thabo Sefolosha, sending both players in the air as Beal ducked under and hit the leaner. An incredible shot that couldn’t have come at a better time – with 0.3 seconds remaining on the clock.
Kevin Durant: KD gave us as much KD as he could. Despite the Wizards defense tightening in the second half, Durant still found his shots. Whether it was cross dribbles that earned him easy lanes to the rim, or crazy contested three pointers that tie ball games with under a minute left, Durant was able to get it in. He finished with 29 points.
Martell Webster: Webster was just great. Guarded by Durant for most of the night, Martell finished with 22 points on 7 of 14 from the field, shooting efficiently both inside and around on the perimeter.
It was definitely a night for lottery picks in DC. While this year’s pick was the game’s savior, it was last year’s pick that drew some raised eyebrows. Jan Vesely, who has mightily struggled to find an established role in the NBA had one of those elusive nights where his game was substantially more fluid than usual. Vesely finished with 10 points and seven boards, constantly finding himself in position for convenient put-backs and was also effective in the fast break. His four offensive boards were key on several offensive possessions.
The blown leads. The Wizards went on a 15-2 run to close out the first quarter and had a 10 point lead. We’ve seen those kind of starts quite a few times this season so it really came as no surprise that the Wizards took no time in giving the lead right back. The Wizards again took a 10 point lead in the fourth before the Thunder stormed right back to close the gap to three, before KD tied it at 99 with 1:21 left.
This more so applies to the Thunder, but what seemed ugly was the pre-game tale of the tape for the Wizards. Coming off a blow-out loss down in Miami courtesy of the Heat less than 24 hours before, and playing only a nine-man lineup thanks to three guys in street clothes (including their leading scorer Jordan Crawford) the Wizards looked all but favorable against the NBA’s top team. But the Wizards found a way to make up for their depleted roster and shocked the NBA for the second time this season.