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Thunder crush Wizards 125-101: Five takeaways

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Thunder crush Wizards 125-101: Five takeaways

The hoopla and anticipation of Kevin Durant playing in his hometown for the only time this season quickly dissipated, as did the boos for every time he touched the ball. The Oklahoma City Thunder are just too good, especially for the Wizards who were playing without Bradley Beal and Nene in Tuesday's 125-101 blowout loss.

The Thunder (5-3) shot the lights out by making their first eight three-point attempts, led by Dion Waiters with 25 points, Serge Ibaka's 23 and Russell Westbrook's triple-double of 22 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds came in just 28 minutes. Durant pulled his left hamstring in the second quarter and didn't return. Still, he had 14 points, 10 rebounds and four assists which was better than any frontcourt player produced for Washington.

Ramon Sessions had 15 points, Marcin Gortat had 15 points and just three rebounds, Gary Neal and Otto Porter 14 each as the Wizards (3-4) lost their third game in a row. Rookie Kelly Oubre a career-high 11 in his most significant action of the season, playing eight minutes of the first half and making his first two shots from three-point range. John Wall only had nine points and five assists in 25 minutes. It's his first game not scoring in double figures this season.

MORE WIZARDS: DURANT GREETED BY BOOS IN RETURN TO D.C.

The boos for Durant started to fade and turned against the Wizards after DeJuan Blair missed a chip shot in the lane late in the third quarter. And midway through the fourth as the second sellout crowd of the season headed for the exits, they grew louder. 

Instead of the Wizards going on a run with Durant off the floor to begin the third quarter down 68-50, it immediately ballooned. 

  • Being more intelligent with the ball was a focus going in after two losses in which the Wizards had 50 turnovers. Wall made conscious decisions to pull back the ball when they didn't have numbers and they only had two first-half giveaways, one from Neal and one by Porter. The problem was in the first half, Oklahoma City was shooting 53.5% from the field (23 of 43), including 8 of 9 from three while the Wizards shot 35.2% (19 of 54) while 21.4% on threes (3 of 14). The Thunder made 15 of 23 threes for the game (65.2%) and 44 of 86 overall (51.2%). The 125 points given up by the Wizards is a season-high, and they've also allowed 117, (Knicks), 114 (Hawks) and 113 (Bucks).

  • Even with Neal doing a solid job of scoring in place of Beal (left shoulder contusion), the Wizards are a different team minus their starting shooting guard who can open the floor for so many others by his presence alone. Beal was listed as active and in uniform but didn't warm up. Wall couldn't get the spacing he needed and the Wizards botched open shot after open shot and he was kept out of the paint. The looks were there. The finishing was not.

  • Kris Humphries, ineffective with three points on 1-for-4 shooting in the first half, so Drew Gooden replaced him to start the second half. The starting power forward spot, be it a traditional four or a "stretch" four, remains problematic. It's only a matter of time before Jared Dudley, who had offseason back surgery, is inserted as the starter. Humphries finished shooting 3-for-6 while Gooden was 2-for-8. Even worse, the Wizards' starting bigs of Humphries and Gortat had just eight rebounds combined. Unacceptable.

  •  Before tip off, Wittman said the Wizards' bigs should be able to better cover the Thunder because they lacked a stretch four. Ibaka made his first three from three-point range for an 80-54 lead over Gooden. Ibaka was shooting 16.7% for the season coming into the game but always has shown a solid mid-range game since he doesn't do any posting up despite being 6-foot-10. 

  •  Nene missed the second half a preseason game because of back spasms. He didn't dress for this one because of a recurrence. Coupled with a right calf injury from the preseason, it's not a good sign especially with the Wizards being thin at forward with Humphries' struggles. Nene didn't join the team on the bench because he didn't have a sports jacket, an NBA requirement.

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Wizards vs. Hornets: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

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USA TODAY Sports

Wizards vs. Hornets: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Jr. and the Washington Wizards battle Kemba Walker, Dwight Howard, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night.

Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch:

WASHINGTON WIZARDS VS. CHARLOTTE HORNETS

Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 7 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (coverage begins at 6 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

On a roll

The Wizards have some serious momentum going right now. With an impressive win over the Cavs on Thursday, they have now won three straight games and eight of 10 since John Wall went down with a left knee injury. They had a week off due to the All-Star break, but didn't show any rust at all in their first game back.

The Wizards are now 34-24, 10 games above the .500 mark. They are fourth in the East and could move into third on Friday if they win and the Cavaliers lose. Even with Wall out, things continue to look up for Washington.

PODCAST: BIGGEST STORYLINES COMING OUT OF ALL-STAR BREAK

Hornets have had their number

The Wizards haven't done so well against the Hornets so far this season. Charlotte has taken both meetings and that includes a 24-point win on Jan. 17. That game featured Dwight Howard taunting the Wizards late in the fourth quarter.

Howard has killed the Wizards through two games with averages of 22.0 points and 14.0 rebounds. Jeremy Lamb (20.0 ppg vs. Wizards) has been a big factor as well as All-Star Kemba Walker (21.5 ppg vs. Wizards).

The last time these teams played about a month ago frustrations boiled over in an incident that got Tim Frazier ejected. Michael Carter-Williams picked a fight with Jason Smith and Frazier went off:

RELATED: BEAL IMPRESSED BY LEBRON AT ALL-STAR GAME

Hornets coming in hot

The Hornets are outside the playoff picture at the moment at eight games below .500, but they have won two straight games and Walker and Howard are coming off huge games. In a win over the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday, Walker dropped 31 points and Howard grabbed 24 rebounds.

Those guys will be riding a high coming into Washington on Friday. But it should be noted that Howard complained after the game how tired he is at this point in the season. That exhausion could affect him more in the second game of a back-to-back.

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS

 

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' huge road win over Cavaliers, including Markieff Morris' alley-oop

5 must-see moments from Wizards' huge road win over Cavaliers, including Markieff Morris' alley-oop

Here are the five best plays or moments from the Washington Wizards' 110-103 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night...

1. The Wizards didn't start out well, as they trailed by nine points at the end of the first quarter. Kelly Oubre, Jr. stumbled early by missing four of his first six shots and it looked like a carryover of his slump before the All-Star break.

But Oubre got hot in the second quarter and helped the Wizards turn the game around. This was one of his best plays, a two-handed slam that he celebrated with an emphatic scream to the crowd:

RELATED: BEAL IMPRESSED BY LEBRON AT ALL-STAR GAME

2. Tomas Satoransky was one of the stars of the game. He had 17 points to go along with eight assists, four rebounds and two steals. 

Here's one of his dimes, a perfect alley-oop lob to Markieff Morris, who finished with nine points and eight rebounds:

3. Satoransky has reached double-figures in six of the 10 games since John Wall went out with an injury. This was a very impressive move, a stepback fadeaway that was super smooth:

RELATED: GET TO KNOW NEW WIZARDS FREE AGENT SIGNING

4. Ian Mahinmi made some key contributions including four offensive rebounds and a steal. This was his best basket, a powerful slam that came at a key time:

5. This play helped seal the victory. It was a smart after-timeout set drawn up by head coach Scott Brooks and it worked to perfection:

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS