Washington Wizards lose to Oklahoma City Thunder, 127-108
Saturday, November 21, 2009
OKLAHOMA CITY -- He came soaring through the air, nearly 6 feet 11 inches of spindly arms and legs, and the Washington Wizards were helpless as Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant drove and dunked on them on Friday night. He later spotted up from behind the three-point line and buried the jumper, pounding his fist against his chest as ran down the court.
If they only had to contend with the District native, the Wizards may have stood a chance. But the Wizards provided scoring opportunities for several of the Thunder's stable of young and athletic talents -- leaving the lane open for drives by Russell Westbrook and Jeff Green, letting James Harden camp out for uncontested three-pointers -- which resulted in a humiliating, 127-108 defeat in which they allowed the most points this season.
"We didn't give a lot of resistance," said Coach Flip Saunders, unable to take any positives from the loss. "We've had some bad defense at times [this season], but we just let [the Thunder] do whatever they wanted and it didn't seem to hurt. That's what's extremely disappointing."
The Wizards (3-8) failed to defend, which meant that they also failed in their third attempt to win back-to-back games this season. Scoring the same number of points as they did in a 17-point victory against the Cavaliers on Wednesday, the Wizards lost by 19 to the Thunder, which shot 53 percent from the floor and 52.4 percent from beyond the three-point line.
Durant led all scorers with 35 points, Westbrook had 26 and Harden came off the bench to hit four three-pointers and score a career-high 25, as Oklahoma City was able to trump the Wizards' all-star trio of Antawn Jamison, Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler, who combined to score 69 points.
The Thunder also outscored the Wizards, 45-27, in the final 15 minutes to keep them 0 for Oklahoma City. The Wizards have never won at Ford Center, losing to the Thunder, 88-83, last season and twice to the New Orleans Hornets, who spent two seasons in Oklahoma following Hurricane Katrina. They will now face the Spurs Saturday night in San Antonio, where they have lost nine games in a row, dating from Dec. 11, 1999.
The Wizards fell behind immediately and fought back all game, but they could never piece together a rally to take the lead. Arenas converted a three-point play to bring the Wizards within 82-81 with 3 minutes 8 seconds left in the third period, but the Thunder scored nine consecutive points, highlighted by a Durant's three-point play in which he bumped into Arenas and made a difficult runner on the break.
"Mentally, we just broke down today. And they just took advantage of it," said Arenas, who finished with 23 points and eight assists.
The Thunder wrapped up the game with 4:12 left in the fourth when guard Thabo Sefolosha (16 points) blocked a driving layup by Arenas, Westbrook scooped up the loose ball and threw a pretty lob pass to Durant for a thunderous alley-oop dunk that gave the Thunder a 115-100 lead. The Wizards scored the next seven points, using a frantic trapping defense, but they were unable to get closer.
The Wizards again struggled with turnovers, as they coughed up the ball 20 times, setting up 25 points for the Thunder (7-6).
"I think we dug too big a hole. We didn't value the ball from the tip to the final horn," Brendan Haywood said after scoring 14 points with 16 rebounds. "When you give up 127, it's everything. It's not like it was one guy. Defensively, we didn't do it as a unit. We played bad, then we made a bad situation even worse. We gave up over 30 [points] every quarter and that ain't going to cut it -- not on the road."
The game marked the first time Haywood and Etan Thomas met as opponents, after sparring for a good portion of their eight years together with the Wizards. The two were able to be civil. Thomas didn't score, but he recorded a blocked shot, snuffing out an Arenas layup attempt near the end of the first period.
Mike Miller appeared to hurt himself in the first period, when he lost the ball while colliding with Sefolosha and landed on his injured left shoulder. Miller got up and grimaced as he ran up and down the court until he walked to the locker room with head athletic trainer Eric Waters with 3:24 left in the period.
Miller returned to the game in the second quarter but was wincing as he kept his left arm bent near his waist and pressed against his body. He finished with five points, but said he would continue to play through the pain.
"It's one of those things that's going to keep lingering and hopefully, it's going to go away sooner than later," Miller said. "Right now, its something that I got to deal with. The doctors said there isn't a chance for it to get worse structurally so it's going be really painful. Right now, I can bear it, so I'm going to play. It's not an excuse."
Former Georgetown star Jeff Green added 19 points and 14 rebounds for the Thunder.