OKLAHOMA CITY -- Healthier, with the effort and energy better, the Wizards still couldn't hold off the firepower of the Oklahoma City Thunder in falling for the second time this season, 114-98, on Monday at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
They haven't won here since the Thunder relocated in 2008. They've split with a lot of solid teams in the West this season, 1-1 vs. the Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs, Memphis Grizzlies and Dallas Mavericks.
Oklahoma City, with elite individual talent and solid role players everywhere, were led by Kevin Durant (28 points, nine rebounds) but Russell Westbrook (17 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists) set the tone early. He had his second triple-double in as many meetings with Washington and both came before the third quarter ended.
Washington was playing for the first time without coach Randy Wittman, who is on a two-game leave after his older brother's death, and looked like a different team than the one that was shorthanded and embarrassed in a 24-point home Nov. 10.
Bradley Beal (18 points), still coming off the bench and on a minutes restriction, played 26 minutes. John Wall (17 points, eight assists, four rebounds), (Marcin Gortat 17 points, six rebounds) and Otto Porter (13 points) followed.
Once Durant broke an 8-8 tie with a three-point shot, Oklahoma City never looked back. Five minutes later they were up 28-14 and though the Wizards (21-25) would get it to single digits on several occasions they couldn't get enough stops or rebounds.
- Exactly what had to be avoided, allowing the Thunder to get ahead early by double-digits, happened. They shot 55.3% in the first half and Westbrook was just three assists and two rebounds from a triple-double. They were able to cut it to 74-67 midway through the third quarter but allowed an 8-0 run to go back down by double digits.
- Dudley's touch passing helps Gortat flourish. He consistently moves the ball quickly and that energy is contagious. Dudley took only four shots but had eight points and four assists in the first half alone and Gortat was 6 of 8 from the field. That's not by accident. But Ibaka stayed home on Dudley in the second half to neutralize the impact he was having on the offense.
- With the small lineup, of course, the Wizards are disadvantaged rebounding as are most teams who do it. Oklahoma City had a lopsided edge of 53-27 on rebounds, including 14-2 offensively, and 18-2 in second-chance points. Porter played 21 minutes for Washington and posted a doughnut with rebounding. No one hard more than Gortat's six.
- Neither bench was special in terms of scoring outside of Enes Kanter (14 points), but the Wizards' needed more punch to give themselves a chance here. The reserves had 55 in Saturday's win in Houston. Aside from Beal's output, the rest of them shot 6 of 18. Ramon Sessions (nine points) was a spark when his three-pointer cut the deficit to 96-84 in the fourth but it ended there.
- To start the fourth, the Wizards had a chance to get the deficit to well under 10 and blew it. Drew Gooden lost the ball on the dribble for a turnover and Wall's entry pass to the post was errant. They had seven fewer turnovers than Oklahoma City (20), but given their rebounding deficiency they had to be even better. Wall had six of Washington's 13 giveaways.