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Takeaways from Wizards' overtime loss to Thunder

Takeaways from Wizards' overtime loss to Thunder

The Wizards came close to making history. They had their best chance to win a game in Oklahoma City, battling back from a 16-point deficit in the first half in coach Scott Brooks' return to where he was fired in 2015. 

They lost it, however, as Russell Westbrook buried a three-pointer to force overtime where the Thunder won 126-115 on Wednesday night at Chesapeake Arena.

The Thunder (12-8) erased a seven-point deficit in the fourth and Westbrook's three-point shot was his first of the game.  

Bradley Beal (31 points) led the Wizards and the other four starters contributed. Markieff Morris (19 points), Marcin Gortat (12 points, 11 rebounds), John Wall (15 points, 15 assists) and Otto Porter (11 points, 8 rebounds) provided a balanced effort. 

Westbrook (35 points, 11 rebounds, 14 assists) was held mostly in check until the sparked an 8-0 run to start the extra period and the Wizards couldn't recover. 

The Wizards (6-11) played better defensively in the second half and a three-pointer from Beal put them up 97-90 as the momentum shifted by the midpoint of the fourth quarter. But Beal made a crucial mistake late.

Needing a three-pointer to tie the score with 17 seconds left, Westbrook got free. Beal sank too deep in the paint against Westbrook who sprinted back to the arc for the open look to tie the score.

-- The Wizards ran a pick-and-roll to end regulation and Wall had a shot at the rim to win it. He got a mismatch on Jerami Grant in the paint and instead of taking a floater or trying to force the issue one step deeper to get to the rim, Wall passed it back to Morris who'd set the screen. The ball ended up in the hands of Porter who did have a clean look. 

-- When Gortat is playing one-on-one defense, he's at his best lately. His low-post battle with Steven Adams (12 points, six rebounds) solid. He bodied up the physical big man for the Thunder, didn't cede ground and mad it tough. Adams can shoot jump hooks for either block with either hand. Gortat pushed him out farther than he'd like from his sweet spot, prevented the full extension on the shot and contested. 

-- For the second game in a row, Kelly Oubre (12 points, 6 rebounds) had energy that was vital. The Wizards were able to cut the deficit by more than half as they trailed 60-63 at halftime. He made two foul shots as he was fouled on a drive.  He had a steal and finish in transition for a layup. When the Wizards surged late in the third quarter, Oubre nailed a three-pointer. He hit another one early in the fourth for a 89-86 lead. But aside from his stats, it was the ball pressure and the problems he caused the Thunder in disrupting their offense with deflections. 

-- Westbrook was held to 12-for-35 shooting. The key? The Wizards sent multiple bodies at him. They didn't overcommit by trapping him on pick-and-rolls. Instead, they played containment, gave him the three-point shot which is the weakness of his game and sealed off the paint. But Westbrook's effort plays that included battling for a rebound for a missed foul shot in overtime and the putback was the difference. 

-- Without Ian Mahinmi (right knee), Wizards won the rebounding battle 48-47 with the NBA's top rebounding team. They also were plus-two on the offensive side with 11 which is how they came back and made it a game. Wall and Beal combined to grab 11 and Morris and Porter had 15. 

[RELATED: Wizards rookie has wrist fracture, out at least 6 weeks]

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Tristan Thompson calls Bradley Beal one of the best shooting guards in the league

Tristan Thompson calls Bradley Beal one of the best shooting guards in the league

Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson spoke with reporters after the team's victory over the Wizards Friday night, praising Bradley Beal, who was snubbed from All-Star consideration this season despite averaging nearly 30 points-per-game.

The Cavaliers held the Wizards to just 21 points in the fourth quarter, and Thompson said their main focus was neutralizing Beal.

"The Wizards are really good offensively when they are making their runs," Thompson said postgame. "Bradley Beal is an All-Star in our league. One of the top-three two-guards in our league right now, so we were just trying to make it tough for him."

Beal finished the night with 26 points, but struggled from the floor. Beal shot 9-for-28 from the floor and the Cavaliers' stingy defense was clearly a factor.

Beal and the Wizards will have a chance to get back on track on Sunday night at Capital One Arena when they host the Chicago Bulls for the final time this season.

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Tristan Thompson says Wizards' trash talking sparked Cavaliers' comeback win

Tristan Thompson says Wizards' trash talking sparked Cavaliers' comeback win

Since LeBron James left the Cavaliers before last season, Cleveland was an astonishing 0-81 when trailing by at least 16 points. The Wizards held a 16-point lead Friday night and ended up losing to the Cavs 113-108. 

So what happened?

You can point to the Wizards' cold shooting in the second half, or a lack of production from anyone not named Bradley Beal or Rui Hachimura, but they were playing a bad Cavs team who committed 21 turnovers. 21!

According to Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson, Washington's trash talk during the game sparked Cleveland's comeback. 

"Somebody out there ignited our defense to take it up a little notch," Thompson told Fred Katz. "You guys can look back at the film and probably take a guess at who we're talking about. But that person right there definitely ignited a bench mob so we give them a lot of credit for tonight for talking and got us going and helped us get a win."

It's not clear which Wizards player "ignited" the Cavaliers, so you'll probably have to do as Thompson said and go back, watch the film and determine who it was yourself. No matter how you slice it though, this isn't the best look for the Wizards. 

If they're serious about making a push to the postseason, these aren't the games they can afford to lose, especially at home to teams who are nearly 30 games below .500. Their schedule won't do them any favors either. Washington has the second-hardest remaining schedule in the East, while its chief competitor for the eighth seed in Orlando has the second-easiest schedule in the East. Oh, and the Magic hold the tiebreaker over the Wizards.

The silver lining is the Wizards typically respond to bad losses. The problem this season has been sustaining that success. They've never had a winning streak longer than two games. 

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