Westbrook, Durant lead Thunder over Wizards
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — If Kevin Durant has his heart set on a third straight NBA scoring title, you might ask why he took only 10 shots Wednesday against the Washington Wizards.
No worries. The Thunder’s star player is always contributing.
Durant scored 20 points to lead an efficient offense in Oklahoma City’s 103-80 rout of the Wizards, snapping a two-game losing streak to Washington.
The Thunder’s so-called “Big Three” — Durant, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Martin — combined for 59 points on just 27 shots and the Thunder led by double digits for most of the second half.
Oklahoma City remains 1 games behind San Antonio for the top spot in the Western Conference after the Spurs held on to beat the Denver Nuggets 100-99.
“Shots are going to come around for me,” Durant said. “Points are going to come around for me. It was balanced tonight. . Who cares? We won the basketball game. I’m happy for our guys coming out and responding after us losing to them.”
Durant was the only Oklahoma City player to reach double figures in shots. Westbrook, who scored 21 points, did so on eight field goal attempts, while Martin, who had 18 points, took nine shots. Oklahoma City shot 46 percent from the field and went 37-of-41 from the free throw line, compared to 32.1 percent (21-of-29) for the Wizards.
Durant hit all 10 of his free throws and Westbrook was 10-of-11 at the line.
“When you don’t have to take the ball out of the net, you get an opportunity to use your athleticism and get out in transition,” Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said. “We were really good with that. We’re fast. Our first three steps can get down to half-court pretty quick and then we put pressure on the defense. It’s all about defending. It’s all about rebounding and getting out on the break.”
Washington had taken its previous two games against Oklahoma City, winning the only meeting during the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season before a 101-99 victory in Washington on Jan. 7 — the second played without point guard John Wall.
Wall, coming off 47 points in a win over Memphis, overcame 3-of-18 shooting to finish with 18 points and 12 assists, but he had limited help. Numerous injuries and illness left the Wizards with only eight players in uniform.
Washington was missing Trevor Ariza (flu), Leandro Barbosa (torn left knee ligament), Bradley Beal (sprained left ankle), Nene (sore right knee), Martell Webster (abdominal strain) and A.J. Price (sort right groin).
“I was as proud of these guys tonight as I was our last game against Memphis,” Washington coach Randy Wittman said. “It’s not about your wins and losses. It’s about how you play. We went out tonight with eight guys and a lot of our key guys down and we battled.
“We didn’t have a good shooting night and this is a good team. If you get them to the free-throw line 41 times on top of that, it’s hard to beat them.”
The Thunder trailed briefly during the opening four minutes and the Wizards hung close for a while. Wall, despite shooting 1-of-11 from the field, still almost had a double-double by halftime, hitting eight of 11 free throws for 10 points to go with nine assists.
An early 8-0 run put Oklahoma City up 10-5 and the Thunder never trailed again. The Thunder built their lead to 45-34 after two free throws by Westbrook with 4:57 left in the first half and was up 53-45 at halftime. Westbrook had 15 points at halftime.
Consecutive 3-pointers by Westbrook and Thabo Sefolosha put Oklahoma City ahead 70-54 with 7:20 left in the third quarter and the Wizards never cut the margin to single digits the rest of the way.
“We just couldn’t get anybody hot,” Wittman said.
Oklahoma City has won nine of its last 10 home games and in the nine victories they’ve won by an average of 22 points.
“I like the way we’re moving the ball,” Durant said. “I like the way we’re helping each other out on defense and talking. If we can keep that up no matter what, we’ll be fine. Right now, I know we love to win basketball games, but it’s about bettering our habits. There’s 10 games left and we want to continue playing sound, solid defense, moving the ball on offense and going out there and wreaking havoc, getting steals and getting blocked shots and try to get some easy points.”
Garrett Temple scored 13 points for the Wizards, while Cartier Martin and Kevin Seraphin each had 12 and Trevor Booker 10.
Kendrick Perkins had 11 rebounds for the Thunder and Emeka Okafor grabbed 10.
NOTES: Among those in attendance was Oklahoma State basketball coach Travis Ford, who had one of the nation’s top freshmen this season in Marcus Smart. Smart hasn’t declared yet if he’ll enter the upcoming NBA draft. Ford spoke briefly with Thunder general manager Sam Presti . Wittman, an Indiana product, was critical of former Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson before the game. When asked about the Hoosiers’ success thus far in the NCAA tournament, Wittman called it `’really gratifying” and said Indiana has recovered from NCAA sanctions imposed for violations that occurred during Sampson’s time as coach. Wittman said Indiana had `’a rich tradition that was built up over 30, 40, 50 years and in the matter of 18 months, it was torn completely down.” Sampson is now an assistant coach with the Houston Rockets . Washington has won 14 games this season against Western Conference foes, the most for the Wizards since winning 14 during the 2006-07 season . The Thunder recorded their 51st straight regular-season sellout at Chesapeake Energy Arena, with 37 of those this season . Backup guard Derek Fisher scored two points in 14 minutes of action for Oklahoma City, his first points in five games.