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.
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.