The Oklahoma City Thunder snapped their two-game losing streak against the Washington Wizards on Monday. After sleepwalking their way through losses to Atlanta and Brooklyn, the Thunder got back in the win column in D.C.
To say this was a perfect result, or even pretty, would be flawed. The Thunder still lacked effort at times, with some defensive lapses that allowed the Wizards to post 128 points. Though it does not have to look pretty, it does not have to be smooth; the must-win game just has to go in the win column.
Oklahoma City did not lack offensive firepower; it was what kept Washington at bay. For the majority of the game, the Thunder were able to nurse a ten point lead for the majority of the contest, fighting back Wizards runs each time.
However, OKC never grew a lead larger than 13 points in a game that featured just two ties and one lead change. The Thunder's offense turned in 59 percent from the floor, 51 percent from beyond the arc, and an uncharacteristic 75 percent at the charity stripe.
The OKC Thunder saw offensive fireworks in Washington, with their big three flashing their formula for success.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Chet Holmgren, and Jalen Williams were the driving force, as is typical this season.
Oklahoma City's MVP candidate, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, posted 32 points, six rebounds, five assists, three steals, and a block in this contest.
Chet Holmgren was on fire, and the Wizards refused to guard him, taking what his defense gave him for a 4-for-5 outing from beyond the arc on his way to 31 points, four assists, and five rebounds, with two blocked shots at the cup.
Then it was Jalen Williams, who once again came alive in the final frame, chipping in 21 points, 10 assists, seven rebounds, and swiping a pair of steals in 33 minutes. All but four of his points came in the second and fourth quarters.
When their best three players reach 20-plus points, the Thunder are a perfect 5-0 this season. Tonight, the formula offensively was on display.
As is customary, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander played the entire first and third frames before closing out the second and fourth quarters. Gilgeous-Alexander put up a jaw-dropping 14 points in the first, and nine points in the third period.
With Gilgeous-Alexander setting the tone, it was Jalen Williams who helped bridge the game for a 48-minute contest, scoring six in the second quarter and 11 in the fourth.
When the Santa Clara product goes into attack mode, it correlates to success for the Thunder. While being tasked with more, Williams has improved this season to 46 percent in the midrange (up from 40 last season) and 44 percent from three-point land (up from 38 percent).
The wing has to continually improve on getting into attack mode, a realization most youngsters have to make. Williams will eventually learn a "good" shot for him, is better than passing to a teammate who has a "great" look.
This was one of the best games the Thunder played of setting up Chet Holmgren for easy buckets. It resulted in 33 points from the big man, finishing with four rebounds, five assists, and swatting a pair of blocks.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is unguardable each game, with Jalen Williams in constant attack mode and Chet Holmgren taking advantage of pick-and-roll action being found by his guards; that is the formula that will set OKC up for success.