Moral victories are never what you want in the NBA, but they can be encouraging. And the Washington Wizards 106-105 overtime loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder Sunday night was just that.
The Wizards were led by Bradley Beal who dropped in a career-high 34 points including six three-pointers and looks to be breaking out of the mini-slump he was in to start the season. This may have been the most encouraging sign of the game because the Wizards need Beal to be scoring the basketball at a high rate in order to be successful. In the Wizards pervious game, Beal poured in 29 points against the Brooklyn Nets in an overtime win for the Wizards. The Wizards had a chance to knock off two straight legit contenders and it is no coincidence that Beal has played to the best of his ability in both of those games. His shooting stroke has looked improved and he has looked better knocking down shots off the dribble. I predicted Beal would lead this team in scoring and the way he has played the last two games makes that prediction seem even more plausible. The Wizards need Beal to consistent and that is why Wizards fans should feel very good that he lit up two contenders in the last two games.
The Wizards also had a nice balanced attack in this game with six different players scoring in double figures. With a lot of shooters as well as a point guard who can get deep into the lane, there will be a lot of games where the Wizards have more than five guys in double figures. In the Nets game, they had five guys with 15 or more points. I have been saying for awhile that the Wizards have the potential to be a dynamic offense and these last two games against very good teams is promising.
The Wizards found a way to get it done against the Nets, which was good to see. However, teams that want to make that next step and be playoff teams win the game Sunday against the Thunder. They were up 92-82 with 3:26 to go. I get the Thunder are one of the best teams and the league and they are led by the second best player in the world in Kevin Durant, but the Wizards needed to keep their foot on the pedal and close it out. Really good teams win the game and the Wizards proved they are not a really good team just yet.
It was disappointed to not see John Wall step up. Wall was 3-13 from the field and looked tentative again offensively again. However, he has been a big reason for setting teammates up and getting everyone involved the last two games. He had a a chance to make up for his lackluster game, but missed a layup as time expired.
This game does not mean the Wizards will not ever be a really good team because they allowed the Thunder to come back. In fact, I think it was an encouraging loss and gave them a glimpse as team how good they can be.