Wizards-Thunder Preview

BY foxsports • January 31, 2016

When they last faced each other in November, the Oklahoma City Thunder lost Kevin Durant and the Washington Wizards were blasted by coach Randy Wittman.

The Thunder certainly hope it doesn't happen again given how well their All-Star forward is playing, while Wittman will miss the next two games following his brother's death.

Two of the league's top point guards in Russell Westbrook and John Wall square off Monday night when Durant looks to stay hot and lead Oklahoma City to its seventh straight home win as well as seventh in a row there against Washington.

Durant has averaged 32.3 points on 55.7 percent shooting in six career home meetings with the Wizards. However, he went down with a leg injury that cost him six games in a 125-101 road victory in the first matchup Nov. 10.

Wittman questioned his team's toughness after it was outrebounded 53-41 and allowed the Thunder to shoot 15 for 23 from 3-point range in that contest. Washington hasn't been much better defensively of late, allowing an average of 110.7 points over a 2-5 stretch.

The Wizards let Houston make 17 for 35 (48.6 percent) from 3-point range but held a 45-37 rebounding advantage in ending a three-game skid with Saturday's 123-122 road win.

Wittman coached after his brother, Rick, died on Friday, but the team announced Sunday that assistant Don Newman will fill in while Wittman misses the next two games.

"It was key to get the first one (of a two-game trip). Now we have an opportunity to go get a win at OKC," said Wall, who finished with 19 points, 13 assists and eight rebounds. "In the past, we've played well there. We just have to find a way to close it out."

Washington (21-24) has lost six in a row at Oklahoma City (36-13), though two of those defeats came in overtime. Wall has averaged 14.3 points on 30.4 percent shooting in his last six meetings overall and is shooting just 31.3 percent over his last four games.

Westbrook has totaled 54 points, 19 assists and 19 boards in his past two games in this series, including a triple-double with 22, 11 and 11 in November. The All-Star point guard had his sixth triple-double Saturday with 26, 14 and 10 in a 116-108 win over Houston.

''It's part of my job, man,'' Westbrook said. ''Just trying to find guys, getting the ball where they can score, keep the pace up.''

Durant chipped in 33 points and 12 rebounds, leaving him with a 34.0 scoring average while pulling down 11.3 boards per contest over his last four games.

Oklahoma City has won 17 of its past 19 home games and its 25-5 record since Dec. 6 was percentage points behind Golden State (22-4) and San Antonio (22-4) entering Sunday.

The Thunder are averaging 109.6 points - second only to the Warriors - after scoring 123.3 per game while making 49.2 percent from 3-point range in their last three. Enes Kanter also has been a key contributor with 45 points and 20 rebounds over his past two.

"He's an opportunistic scorer," coach Billy Donovan said. "He gets offensive rebounds. He gets fouled. He runs the floor. He'll get a 15-foot jump shot. He's given us a really nice boost these last couple games."