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Russell Westbrook, Thunder at a loss to explain 24 missed shots in a row against Wizards

Russell Westbrook, Thunder at a loss to explain 24 missed shots in a row against Wizards

The Thunder fell to the Wizards Monday night 120-98. That 22-point disparity is a large number, but still two shy of the number of consecutive shots Oklahoma City missed in the game. 

That's right: 24 missed shots in a row. And equally shocking was Russell Westbrook going scoreless in the second half. He finished with 17 points on 5 of 19 shooting and was the only starter to score in double digits. 

The team as a whole didn't fair much better, hitting on 35.4% from the field. 

Westbrook spoke for only a moment in the locker room before hurrying out the door. But from his short answers it was clear that he faulted the Thunder, not the Wizards, for an incredibly cold night. 

"I was doing what I wanted, I just missed," he said. "We just didn't play hard."

"A lot of shots were open. I missed some chippies around the rim as well."

Thunder coach Billy Donovan said he was concerned before the game that his team might experience a letdown after Saturday's difficult loss to Kevin Durant and the Warriors. 

"I don't know if I'd use the word 'hangover' but I think I made the comment before the game, someone asked me about the emotion part and I was worried about it," Donovan said.

"There was a lot going into that game [against the Warriors], it was something I think as a coach you always kind of have your antennas up to things that can get in the way of us playing well."

Shooting guard Victor Oladipo defended Westbrook in his postgame comments, laying blame at his own feet for a meager 6-point night.

"He's human, he can have a tough night, but the rest of us have to step up and play," Oladipo said. "Me personally, I feel like I owe it to this team and I owe it to myself to be prepared every night. Tonight I didn't do that, so I have to be better." 

MORE WIZARDS: Takeaways from Wizards' blowout win over Thunder

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Five observations from Wizards' 115-104 loss to the Brooklyn Nets despite Dwight Howard's huge night

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USA Today Sports

Five observations from Wizards' 115-104 loss to the Brooklyn Nets despite Dwight Howard's huge night

The Washington Wizards lost to the Brooklyn Nets 115-104 on Friday night. Here are five observations from the game...

Step back: The Wizards just can't crack the code of consistency or the pesky Brooklyn Nets.

After winning three straight and looking like they had made some corrections, the Wizards stumbled out of the locker room at halftime and couldn't match Brooklyn's energy. The Nets pulled away to lead by as many as 19 and handed the Wizards yet another blowout loss in a season of which are quickly piling up.

The Nets have the formula to give the Wizards fits. They are scrappy and play defense. They are cohesive and well-coached. The Wizards are susceptible against try-hards who play with a chip on their shoulder. They too often let others set the tone and that's just what the Nets did in this one. 

The Wizards are now 5-10 on the season. That matches their 15-game start from two years ago, when they rallied to win 49 games, but that only means so much, of course.

Threes were off: While their attempts are up, the Wizards have been shooting uncharacteristically bad from three this season. They entered the game 27th in the NBA, shooting just 32.8 percent.

In this game, they didn't just struggle to make threes, they had trouble shooting them at all. Brooklyn sold out to take away the perimeter and was successful doing it. 

The Wizards went 3-for-17 from three and shot just 17.6 percent. They were 2-for-13 entering the fourth quarter.

Surely, head coach Scott Brooks won't be happy about that. Three-point shooting continues to be a major point of emphasis for him.

Howard was dominant early: Perhaps we should have expected this from Dwight Howard. After all, it was the Nets, the team Howard was bought out by over the summer, right before he signed with the Wizards. 

Was three days with a franchise enough for a revenge game? Sure, we'll go with it.

Or, perhaps he's just a bad matchup for Brooklyn because they were the team he smacked around for 32 points and 30 rebounds against last season.

He didn't quite go 30-30, but Howard was unstoppable in the first half. He ate Jarrett Allen, who is a very talented young player, for lunch. Allen and the rest of the Nets' frontline were no match for Howard's strength.

Howard popped off for six of the Wizards' first eight points. By halftime, he had 17 points, nine rebounds, a steal and a block.

This game was a reminder of the fact he can do things his predecessor, Marcin Gortat, cannot. Howard, really, can produce in a way no Wizards' fourth option has been able to in years.

Markieff Morris has often served as the fourth scoring option behind John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Otto Porter Jr. But Morris doesn't often go off for nearly a double-double in a half. 

But, the second half:  What was strange about Howard, though, is that he barely played in the second half until the game was out of hand. Howard picked up his fourth foul in the third quarter, but that didn't explain it all.

Howard played only five minutes from the start of the second half until there were less than nine minutes to go in the fourth quarter. During that stretch, Allen found success against the Wizards' small-ball lineups and helped the Nets pull away.

By the time Howard returned, the Wizards were down 19 points. Brooks had something that was working really well and, in part because of the fouls, he went away from it a little too long. It proved costly.

Morris struggled: As good as Howard was, Morris had one of his worst games of the season. The Wizards power forward had one of those nights we see far too often where he wasn't active enough on defense or on the boards. He couldn't get anything going offensively, either.

Morris, who ended the game with four points and two rebounds in 20 minutes, had zero points and zero rebounds in nine minutes in the first quarter. 

While the Nets' big men were overmatched by Howard's strength, Morris couldn't keep up with their quickness. He was a step behind and had trouble matching their bounce around the rim.

Morris predictably didn't play at all in the fourth quarter. That's the way it goes with Brooks now.

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2018-19 NBA power rankings: Wizards rising, are Warriors falling?

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2018-19 NBA power rankings: Wizards rising, are Warriors falling?

The start to the 2018-19 NBA season did not go smoothly for a handful of teams. The Wizards started 2-9, but have since won three straight. The Lakers, with LeBron James leading the way, started 2-5 but have won six of their last seven games.

Even the Rockets, considered one of the top contenders for the 2018-19 NBA championship, started slow, losing five of their first six games. But since the calendar switched from October to November, the Rockets turned things around, having won six of eight.

Click here to view the latest 2018-19 NBA Power Rankings

What about the reigning NBA champion Golden State Warriors. Steph Curry and company lost just once in their first 11 games, but have dropped three of their last five games amid turmoil between Kevin Durant and Draymond Green. The Warriors are still clearly the favorites to win the NBA title again, but are they still perched atop our power rankings?

Here is a look at all 30 teams...

Click here to view the latest 2018-19 NBA Power Rankings

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