Garrett Temple and Kelly Oubre both expressed similar concern about the current state of the Washington Wizards defense following the team's 125-101 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. While the veteran Temple expressed his opinion in measured yet forceful tone, the rookie Oubre talked with youthful exuberance about what's lacking.
"The dog. The fight. The grit and the griminess," the 19-year-old said shortly after Washington allowed its most points on the young season. "That's pretty much it. We need to be more and more [like] savages on the court I'd say. "
Other players and the head coach had plenty to say about Tuesday's disaster at Verizon Center and the Wizards third straight loss overall. The Thunder scored 37 points in the first quarter, made 17 3-pointers and outrebounded Washington 53-41.
"They jumped on us from the start," stated Temple, who has been part of Washington's top-10 ranked defense over each of the last three seasons. "Defensively we didn't come with it. We weren't focused. The coaching staff did a great job of telling us which plays they want to run. We just didn't execute the game plan."
During the three-game skid, the Wizards are allowing 119 points.
"Until we defend, get the defensive mindset we've had the last few years and rebound the ball, we're not going to be as good of a team as we expect to be. That's to a man, one to 15. We have to defend, we have to rebound otherwise it's going to be a long season."
The long night began immediately. Oklahoma City's third basket highlighted Washington's defensive disconnect.
Replay shows Otto Porter fronting Durant on the right wing immediately after a Wizards basket on the other end of the court. Denying a direct pass to the scoring savant makes perfect sense. The issue? Big men Marcin Gortat and Kris Humphries were positioned near the free throw line, leaving the basket area unprotected.
Russell Westbrook spotted the opening. After taking one dribble across midcourt, the Thunder point guard threw a pinpoint lob toward the basket, which Durant easily grabbed and layed in uncontested.
"We didn't execute what we were supposed to do defensively. Durant got a lob dunk," Temple said.
Oklahoma City continued on the attack and led by 14 points after the first quarter.
"They pretty much punched us first, I would say," Oubre stated. "They punched us first and we never kind of retaliated."
No, no they did not. The margin was 18 at halftime and immediately increased in the third quarter even with Durant sidelined after suffering a hamstring strain. Westbrook finished with a triple-double of 22 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists. He helped finish off the listless Wizards by scoring or assisting on the Thunder's first five baskets of the second half.
Bad results and blowout losses occur over an 82-game season. This one cannot be dismissed as "one of those nights" seeing as it took place immediately after a 118-98 loss at Boston and a 114-99 setback in Atlanta.
"We've been embarrassed [over the last three games]," Temple said. "We haven't brought it. It's different if you lose close games. I don't care who is playing, who is not playing. We're all professionals. We can put out an effort and we haven't done that. Atlanta we played hard but made a lot of offensive mistakes. This game we didn't have any type of effort defensively on the boards.
"That's a thing you can control. You can't control the ball going in, but you can control your effort and we didn't have any tonight."
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