Nick Young was off to a horrible start on Wednesday night against Oklahoma City. The Wizards swingman had missed all five of his field goal attempts, and if it weren’t for a pair of free throws, he would have finished with zero points.
Then Young swished a three-pointer late in the third quarter and with his confidence restored proceeded to sink four more from that distance on the way to 24 points, 22 of which came in the second half.
Young’s five-three pointers, including one for the go-ahead points with 7 minutes 24 seconds to play, were more than all of the Thunder combined, helping the Wizards log their most impressive victory this season, 105-102, at Verizon Center.
“Man, I just got going,” said Young, who also made 7 of 10 foul shots. “Hands heated up, my teammates found me, and all you heard was swish, you know?”
Young paused briefly before adding, “I like that one.”
On this night, Wall took as much pride in his on-court performance in the second half as he did with his postgame sound bite. His first three-pointer cut the deficit to 63-56, and his final three-pointer of the third quarter got the Wizards to 70-66 with 1:41 to play.
Young brought the crowd to its feet when another three-pointer early in the fourth quarter to give Washington the lead, 86-84, and the Wizards never trailed again. His last three-pointer made it 93-88 with 3:22 to play, and he all but sealed the win by making the second to two foul shots with five seconds to play.
Wizards Coach Flip Saunders employed some strategy to try to get Young started in the second half, and it paid off not only for Young but also defensively against Thunder forward Kevin Durant.
Young moved to small forward, which meant guarding the NBA’s reigning scoring champ but also required Durant to keep pace with Young. Durant scored just eight of his 33 points in the fourth quarter while Young matched that total while Jordan Crawford assumed his shooting guard slot.
“Durant had a little bit more problem chasing” Young, Saunders said. “Durant usually when he plays the three position he’s not used to chasing threes all around. Nick plays way out on the perimeter so much. I thought our guys found him in transition more. John [Wall] found him a couple times. Jordan found him. Those three guys played pretty well together.”