December 2, 2021

Washington Wizards: Thunder out match Wiz in all phases as Kevin Durant’s homecoming is cut short

(Photo by: Grantland)

(Photo by: Grantland)

In one of the most anticipated regular season games of the year, the Washington Wizards welcomed Kevin Durant back home to the DMV area. Early on the Verizon Center faithful tried to boo every time Durant touched the ball after the Montrose Christian star called fans disrespectful for rooting for him over their team. In the end Kevin Durant’s Thunder, playing without him in the second half, with were too much for the Wizards because of efficient shooting from beyond the arc. Washington fell 125-101 and to below .500 for the first time since dropping the season opener last year in South Beach.

With Bradley Beal missing the game due to a shoulder injury sustained against the Hawks last Saturday, Towson alum Gary Neal got the start and helped weather the storm early with eight points in the first quarter. It was little help to the Wizards that Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook came out hungry. The duo combined for 14 points, 11 rebounds, and 8 assists in just over 10 minutes of play. Otto Porter was continuing his efficient play with nine point on just four field goal attempts. Wizards began to lose control of things during bench play of both sides and found themselves trailing by a whopping 14 point margin after one quarter of play.

For the first time at home, Kelly Oubre Jr. saw playing time off the bench and he was rewarding the home town fans. Oubre came into the game without a three point field goal on four attempts, but quickly knocked down his first two threes. Washington got the deficit down to seven, but could not stop the Thunder offensively or convert on chip shot field goal attempts.

Head coach Randy Wittman made the incorrect comment that the Thunder did not have a stretch four. It seems that Serge Ibaka, who made 77 three balls last year, took exception to such comments and went to work. The Congo native dropped 15 in the first half with two from beyond the arc. Although the Wizards only committed two turnovers in the first half, Oklahoma City was an unconscious 8 of 8 from beyond the arc  to start the game and won the rebounding battler 30 to 19. As a result, Washington found themselves in a huge 68-50 hole at intermission after the Thunder finished on a 10-1 run.

Kevin Durant was ruled OUT for the second half after having a left hamstring strain, but it did nothing for the Wizards chances as they continued to lack a defensive identity. Even without the former MVP, Oklahoma City was scoring at will while the Wizards were not able to buy a shot. Ibaka, Westbrook, and Dion Waiters more than made up for Durant’s absence offensively. Washington’s defense so sloppy in rotations, in isolation situations, and on the glass. Before the third quarter even ended, Westbrook had a triple double. The Wizards usually go as the floor general John Wall goes; he finished the game with jut 9 points on 4 of 13 shooting. Heading into the final frame the Wizards were getting blown out 97-71.

During garbage time in the fourth quarter, Randy Wittman emptied the bench. This did not stop Dion Waiters from going off. The former first-team rookie player was one of the many Thunder players to have a great shooting night by dropping 25 on 10 shots including four from beyond the arc. Ramon Sessions quietly had a nice game by going six of nine from the field, but it was all garbage time in the final frame. It was a miserable night for the Wizards fans who were at least lucky enough to get free Chick-fil-A. Washington fell 125-101 in a poor defensive performance.

Washington’s home stand will continue on Saturday when they play the Orlando Magic in a rematch of the home opener, hoping to snap their current three game losing streak.

About Neil Dalal

Neil Dalal is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Redskins, Wizards, and Maryland Terrapins. Neil grew up in Silver Spring, MD and attends the University of Maryland. Neil has loved everything related to the Redskins, Wizards, Capitals, and Terrapins since he was eight years old. However, he favors the Orioles, as he started watching baseball before the Expos moved to DC. You can follow Neil on Twitter @NeilDalal96.

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