Thunder 103, Wizards 80

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 1/2 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.