Westbrook’s 23 lead surging Thunder past struggling Wizards
WASHINGTON — Continuing their turnaround from a terrible season start, the Oklahoma City Thunder picked up their fourth consecutive victory by beating the struggling, booed-at-home Washington Wizards 134-111 behind Russell Westbrook’s 23 points and 12 assists Friday night.
From 0-4 to 4-4, the Thunder are clicking right now, led by Westbrook, who missed the first two games after a procedure on his right knee and sat out the final quarter of the rout at Washington.
And even though OKC was the team playing on the second night of a back-to-back, it looked a lot fresher and more active than Washington, which was coming off a two-day break and finally got to see new center Dwight Howard make his debut.
After missing all of training camp, every exhibition game and the first seven regular-season games with a sore backside, Howard started and immediately appeared to have an impact, scoring 13 first-quarter points. But soon enough, Washington got into its usual bad habits, the ones that have led to loss after loss so far: ineffective defense and low-effort rebounding.
The Wizards have lost four games in a row to drop to 1-7, and spectators let the players hear their displeasure in the second quarter, jeering when OKC went ahead 61-40 on Jerami Grant’s dunk on a pass from Westbrook. When Paul George made his third straight 3 attempt, a night after going 0 for 10 from beyond the arc, it made the halftime score 79-50, equaling the Thunder’s record for most points in a half.
An Oklahoma City team averaging 109 points this season was already at 110 after three quarters.
George wound up with 17 points to surpass 10,000 for his career, and Grant scored 22.
Howard had 20 points on 7-of-8 shooting, three rebounds and four fouls in 23 minutes. When he was out of the game, he either laid down on his stomach on the sideline or stood.
Bradley Beal scored 27 points, and John Wall had 19 points and nine assists, but Washington’s pair of All-Star guards also combined for 12 turnovers.
The Thunder went up by as many as 33 points in the third quarter and shot 57 percent for the game. They outrebounded the Wizards 38-30.
None of that should come as a surprise, given that Washington began the night allowing an NBA-worst 122.4 points per game and averaging only 41.3 rebounds, 27th in the 30-club league.
Thunder: Came in shooting 27 percent on 3s, but hit 47 percent — 15 for 32 — against Washington. … George has complained of a nerve issue with his left foot, and coach Billy Donovan said George thinks it affects his defense. “There’s times where he wishes he could push off a little bit better and move a little bit better — more to the extreme that he’s capable of doing,” Donovan said. “I think he still feels he’s hindered by it.”
Wizards: Otto Porter Jr. played with a bruised big left toe and scored nine points in only 16 minutes. … Brooks on Ian Mahinmi, who started at center while Howard was sidelined but now returns to a backup role: “His minutes are going to shrink quite a bit, but he has to be ready whenever he’s called on.”
The Wizards’ jerseys had a sponsor’s logo for the first time, part of a multiyear deal with an insurance company that also will advertise on uniforms for the WNBA’s Washington Mystics and the G League’s Capital City Go-Go. Nearly all NBA teams now have such a jersey sponsorship arrangement; the Thunder still do not.
Thunder: Host the Pelicans on Monday.
Wizards: Host the Knicks on Sunday.
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