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Thunder crush Wizards 125-101: Five takeaways

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Thunder crush Wizards 125-101: Five takeaways

The hoopla and anticipation of Kevin Durant playing in his hometown for the only time this season quickly dissipated, as did the boos for every time he touched the ball. The Oklahoma City Thunder are just too good, especially for the Wizards who were playing without Bradley Beal and Nene in Tuesday's 125-101 blowout loss.

The Thunder (5-3) shot the lights out by making their first eight three-point attempts, led by Dion Waiters with 25 points, Serge Ibaka's 23 and Russell Westbrook's triple-double of 22 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds came in just 28 minutes. Durant pulled his left hamstring in the second quarter and didn't return. Still, he had 14 points, 10 rebounds and four assists which was better than any frontcourt player produced for Washington.

Ramon Sessions had 15 points, Marcin Gortat had 15 points and just three rebounds, Gary Neal and Otto Porter 14 each as the Wizards (3-4) lost their third game in a row. Rookie Kelly Oubre a career-high 11 in his most significant action of the season, playing eight minutes of the first half and making his first two shots from three-point range. John Wall only had nine points and five assists in 25 minutes. It's his first game not scoring in double figures this season.

MORE WIZARDS: DURANT GREETED BY BOOS IN RETURN TO D.C.

The boos for Durant started to fade and turned against the Wizards after DeJuan Blair missed a chip shot in the lane late in the third quarter. And midway through the fourth as the second sellout crowd of the season headed for the exits, they grew louder. 

Instead of the Wizards going on a run with Durant off the floor to begin the third quarter down 68-50, it immediately ballooned. 

  • Being more intelligent with the ball was a focus going in after two losses in which the Wizards had 50 turnovers. Wall made conscious decisions to pull back the ball when they didn't have numbers and they only had two first-half giveaways, one from Neal and one by Porter. The problem was in the first half, Oklahoma City was shooting 53.5% from the field (23 of 43), including 8 of 9 from three while the Wizards shot 35.2% (19 of 54) while 21.4% on threes (3 of 14). The Thunder made 15 of 23 threes for the game (65.2%) and 44 of 86 overall (51.2%). The 125 points given up by the Wizards is a season-high, and they've also allowed 117, (Knicks), 114 (Hawks) and 113 (Bucks).

  • Even with Neal doing a solid job of scoring in place of Beal (left shoulder contusion), the Wizards are a different team minus their starting shooting guard who can open the floor for so many others by his presence alone. Beal was listed as active and in uniform but didn't warm up. Wall couldn't get the spacing he needed and the Wizards botched open shot after open shot and he was kept out of the paint. The looks were there. The finishing was not.

  • Kris Humphries, ineffective with three points on 1-for-4 shooting in the first half, so Drew Gooden replaced him to start the second half. The starting power forward spot, be it a traditional four or a "stretch" four, remains problematic. It's only a matter of time before Jared Dudley, who had offseason back surgery, is inserted as the starter. Humphries finished shooting 3-for-6 while Gooden was 2-for-8. Even worse, the Wizards' starting bigs of Humphries and Gortat had just eight rebounds combined. Unacceptable.

  •  Before tip off, Wittman said the Wizards' bigs should be able to better cover the Thunder because they lacked a stretch four. Ibaka made his first three from three-point range for an 80-54 lead over Gooden. Ibaka was shooting 16.7% for the season coming into the game but always has shown a solid mid-range game since he doesn't do any posting up despite being 6-foot-10. 

  •  Nene missed the second half a preseason game because of back spasms. He didn't dress for this one because of a recurrence. Coupled with a right calf injury from the preseason, it's not a good sign especially with the Wizards being thin at forward with Humphries' struggles. Nene didn't join the team on the bench because he didn't have a sports jacket, an NBA requirement.

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Markieff Morris

2017-18 Wizards roster review: Markieff Morris

To wrap up the 2017-18 season, we are looking at each player on the Wizards' roster. Today, we evaluate Markieff Morris' season...

Player: Markieff Morris

Position: Power forward

Age: 28

2017-18 salary: $8 million

2017-18 stats: 73 G, 27.0 mpg, 11.5 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 1.9 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.5 bpg, 48.0 FG%, 36.7 3P%, 82.0 FT%, 53.6 eFG%, 116 ORtg, 112 DRtg

Best game: 12/1 vs. Pistons - 23 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks, zero turnovers, 10-for-16 FG, 2-for-3 3PT

Season review: It took quite a while for Markieff Morris to get healthy in the 2017-18 season. He was sidelined to begin last offseason with the ankle injury he suffered against the Celtics in the playoffs, then in September had surgery on both his abdomen and groin. The sports hernia surgery was known, while the groin procedure was revealed once the season was over.

Morris only missed nine games in the entire season, but took time to find his rhythm early. He averaged just 9.0 points and 4.4 rebounds in 14 games in the month of November. He picked it up after that, though he never quite reached the level we saw from him in 2016-17 in terms of volume production.

Morris played less minutes, took less shots, scored fewer points and grabbed less rebounds than the season before. On the other hand, he was more efficient than ever. Morris shot 48 percent from the field, his best since 2013-14, and posted career-highs in three-point percentage (36.7) and effective field-goal percentage (53.6). 

The Wizards could use more scoring from Morris moving forward, especially at times when one of their primary options is injured, as was the case in 2017-18 when John Wall missed 41 games. An active and engaged Morris changes everything for the Wizards. 

When Morris scored 15 points or more this season, the Wizards went 15-8. The season before, they went 22-9 when he got to the 15-point mark. 

It's a bit difficult to project Morris' role for the 2018-19 season at this point, given the fact he's entering a contract year and the most logical area for the Wizards to make significant changes (if they choose to) is in their frontcourt. Also, as Morris discussed in his exit interview, he knows more time at center in small-ball sets could be in his future.

Regardless of what happens with the team, it's a huge summer for Morris individually. If he sets himself up well for a big year in 2018-19, he could earn a nice payday in what might be his last long-term contract given his age.

Potential to improve: Rebounding, screens, scoring

More player season reviews:

John Wall, PG

Bradley Beal, SG

Otto Porter, SF

Kelly Oubre, Jr., SF

Marcin Gortat, C

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Marcin Gortat

2017-18 Wizards roster review: Marcin Gortat

To wrap up the 2017-18 season, we are looking at each player on the Wizards' roster. Today, we evaluate Marcin Gortat's season...

Player: Marcin Gortat

Position: Center

Age: 34

2017-18 salary: $12.8 million

2017-18 stats: 82 G, 25.3 mpg, 8.4 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 1.8 apg, 0.5 spg, 0.7 bpg, 51.8 FG%, 67.5 FT%, 51.8 eFG%, 112 ORtg, 107 DRtg

Best game: 10/18 vs. Sixers - 16 points, 17 rebounds, 3 blocks, assist, 7-for-12 FG

Season review: Marcin Gortat is self-aware enough to know that what happened to him in 2017-18 was inevitable in many ways. He even publicly called it before the season.

He was one year older, with Ian Mahinmi healthy and in the rotation, and with the NBA continuing to move towards small-ball and big men who can play on the perimeter. As a result, Gortat saw his role in the Wizards rotation pared down noticeably.

Though he still started all 82 games, his minutes went down from 31.2 per game the year before the 25.3. Kelly Oubre, Jr., who played the majority of the season coming off the bench, logged more minutes than Gortat, though he was a starter.

Gortat's minutes were his fewest since the 2009-10 season, when he was a 25-year-old bench player for the Orlando Magic. His numbers this season followed suit. Gortat's points and rebounds per game were both the lowest since that 2009-10 campaign.

Gortat averaged a career-best 10.4 rebounds per game in 2016-17, but the minutes had a direct effect on his volume of boards. He pulled in 2.4 less per game this season despite his rebound percentage (17.0) being close to his career average (17.5). That career average, by the way, is 30th-best all-time an eighth among active players.

Not getting the same opportunities he had in years past, plus public misunderstandings with teammates, combined to make for a frustrating year for Gortat. He said on the Wizards Tipoff podcast midseason it was the worst year of his career. Gortat, though, did continue to make an impact setting screens for the Wizards and he rallied to finish relatively strong.

He had several solid outings in the playoffs, including his 16 points in Game 3 and his 12 rebounds in Game 5. The question is whether that is the last time we will see Gortat in a Wizards uniform.

Washington has played with the idea of trading Gortat for a while now. He popped up in rumors around the trade deadline in February, but remained on the roster. Now he has an expiring contract working in his favor, making it a bit more likely he gets dealt.

Gortat knows his future in Washington is uncertain, though he said following the season he would like to stay. It would not be surprising to him or anyone if he were traded this summer. If not, he's got one year left with the Wizards and could very well have his role decreased even more.

Potential to improve: Rim protection, midrange shooting, free throw percentage

More player season reviews:

John Wall, PG

Bradley Beal, SG

Otto Porter, SF

Kelly Oubre, Jr., SF

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