The Oklahoma City Thunder entered Monday night's contest at the Verizon Center with an NBA-best 26-7 record, while the hosting Washington Wizards came in with a league-worst 4-28 mark and were without their two best players in John Wall and Nene Hilario.
On paper it appeared to be an easy victory for OKC but, as coaches often like to say, this is why games aren't played on paper.
The Thunder fought back from a nine-point fourth-quarter deficit to tie on a deep Kevin Durant 3-pointer at 99 with 36 seconds remaining, but Wizards' rookie Bradley Beal would have the last laugh, draining a jumper with 0.3 seconds remaining to win 101-99.
Beal's game-winner was a fitting exclamation point on a stellar night from the No. 2 overall pick in the draft. The Florida product scored 22 points, including five 3-pointers. The Wizards hit 10 3's on the night compared to OKC's six, helping them to gain an advantage.
Also not working in the Thunder's favor was its shooting performance overall. After shooting a torrid 56.4 percent in the first half, OKC finished at just 42.5 percent from the game. The Thunder shot just 6-of-17 in the fourth quarter but managed to climb back from the foul line. At one point in the second half the Thunder missed 16-consecutive shots.
It was unquestionably the Thunder's worst performance of the season – and inexplicably the second-straight loss for OKC in Washington – from top to bottom but there were a few highlights.
Durant finished with 29 points, eight assists and seven rebounds while Serge Ibaka added a career-high 26 points on 12-of-17 shooting with 11 rebounds and two blocks.
Russell Westbrook finished with 17 points and eight assists but shot an abysmal 4-of-17 from the field.
Perhaps the biggest indicator outside of the defensive lapses to explain why the Thunder lost this game can be seen from the bench production. The typically stout unit scored just 13 points combined on 4-of-18 shooting, while Kevin Martin and Nick Collison both were minus-11 for the contest.
Martell Webster added 22 for the Wizards and Kevin Seraphin scored 19 standing in for an injured Nene.
The Wizards might only have five victories on the season but two have come against the Thunder and the Heat, last season's NBA Finals participants.
Oklahoma City fell to 26-8 with the loss and return to Chesapeake Energy Arena on Wednesday to face the Minnesota Timberwolves at 7 p.m.