Durant scores 34, Westbrook 22 to lead Thunder past Wizards
Kevin Durant is dominating, and he doesn’t think he has found his groove just yet.
The reigning MVP scored 34 points to help the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Washington Wizards 109-102 on Friday night.
Durant was 12 for 18 from the field in just 32 minutes, including a 4-for-7 performance from 3-point range. He scored 44 points in an overtime win over Phoenix on Wednesday night in his first game back after missing six straight with a sprained right ankle.
"I was out for a while, I watched the game and learned it a lot more, and just gotta keep it up," he said. "I ain’t really did nothing I wanted to do yet, and I’m gonna keep going."
Durant scored 30 points in 19 minutes against Golden State on Dec. 18 before injuring the ankle. In the last three games he has played, including the Golden State game, he has scored 108 points on 35-for-54 shooting (.648), including 15 of 24 from 3-point range, in just 90 minutes.
His teammates just shrug their shoulders. They have come to expect extraordinary play from the four-time scoring champion who averaged 32 points last season.
"That’s what he does," Thunder guard Russell Westbrook said. "Nobody’s surprised. He’s not surprising himself. He prepared himself well to get back to where he is, and back to where he left off."
Westbrook had 22 points and six assists for the Thunder (17-17), who reached .500 for the first time this season. Oklahoma City shot 53 percent from the field to win for the fourth time in five games.
Bradley Beal had 21 points, 10 rebounds and six assists for Washington, which has lost two in a row. Andre Miller added a season-high 15 points, and John Wall had 14 points and 12 assists, but he made just 5 of 13 shots.
Beal made a 3-pointer with just over a minute remaining to trim Oklahoma City’s lead to 105-102. Washington had a chance to inch closer or tie, but Westbrook intercepted a pass by Wall that was intended for Beal. He missed the layup on the fast break, but Serge Ibaka was there to clean it up for a layup with 22.9 seconds to play.
Wall missed a 3-pointer on Washington’s next possession, and Westbrook made a pair of free throws on the other end.
"We did a nice job fighting tooth-and-nail with them," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said, "but they made more plays than we did coming down the stretch, and that was the difference."
The Wizards led 57-55 at halftime behind 13 points for Beal and Miller. Wall scored just two points in the first half and took just two shots. Westbrook led the Thunder with 14 points, but he made just 5 of 15 shots while his teammates were 18 of 27 from the field.
Westbrook committed his fourth foul early in the third quarter, and the Wizards started the second half with an 8-4 stretch to take a 65-59 lead. The Wizards led 82-74 with 1:26 left in the third, but Durant made two 3-pointers in the final minute of the period, including one with 1.2 seconds left, to tie it at 82 heading into the fourth.
Wizards: Paul Pierce and Nene had 12 points apiece. … Washington shot 46 percent (39 for 84) from the field. … Pierce and Rasual Butler were the primary defenders on Durant. Neither was effective, and Pierce finished with five fouls.
Thunder: C Steven Adams left in the first quarter after hurting his left leg. Nene kicked him in that leg after the two got tangled up under the basket, and Nene was issued a technical. Adams returned in the second quarter.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
Durant, on finding a rhythm since his return: "I just try to simplify it as much as I can. I know where I’m gonna get my shots, I know where I’m effective, and I know how to use my teammates."
Westbrook was issued his ninth technical of the season in the first quarter after disagreeing with a call. Westbrook missed a dunk, and then fouled Beal after Washington got the rebound. Westbrook entered the night leading the NBA in technicals, despite missing 14 games with a broken bone in his right hand.
Wizards: Visit San Antonio on Saturday.
Thunder: Visit Golden State on Monday.