Wiz Lose on the Road; Caps Lose at Home
Courtesy of AP | 11/21/2009, 12:05 a.m.
Thunder fend off Wizards, 127-108 - By JEFF LATZKE - AP Sports Writer
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Kevin Durant scored 35 points, Russell Westbrook added 26 and the Oklahoma City Thunder had their highest-scoring output of the season in a 127-108 victory over the Washington Wizards on Friday night, Nov. 20.
Rookie James Harden followed his 24-point performance by hitting his first three 3-pointers and finishing with 25 points to set another career best. Jeff Green had 19 points and 14 rebounds, and Thabo Sefolosha added 16 points.
The game marked a full season since Scott Brooks took over as Thunder coach, and he reached the 82-game mark with a 29-53 record. Oklahoma City started 2-17 under Brooks following the firing of P.J. Carlesimo, but has since gone 27-36 - including 7-6 to begin this season.
After watching Washington answer every Thunder run for the better part of three quarters, Brooks changed the game when he went with a three-guard lineup. Oklahoma City immediately went on a 9-0 run to stretch its lead to 91-81 on Durant's three-point play.
Then Brooks went even smaller, going without a center and leaving the 6-foot-9 Green as his tallest player on the court. The move worked, as Oklahoma City continued to pull away.
The Thunder's top-5 draft picks from the last two drafts hooked up on the game's most electrifying play to help seal it.
Harden tipped the ball away from Caron Butler along the left sideline and kept it inbounds by whisking it behind his back to Westbrook, who returned the favor by tossing the ball behind his head to set up Harden's left-handed jam that made it 111-94 with 6 minutes left.
Washington, which had been playing catch-up all night, made one last run to get within 115-107, but that's as close as it got.
Butler scored 24 for the Wizards, who have lost seven of eight. Gilbert Arenas had 23 points, Antawn Jamison contributed 22 points and 12 rebounds in his second game of the season, and Brendan Haywood had 14 points and 16 rebounds.
Oklahoma City opened an early 28-16 lead, only to let Washington claw back to tie the game at 32 on Butler's 3-pointer to start the second quarter. Sefolosha had a 3-pointer and a right-handed jam in an 8-0 surge that put the Thunder up 46-38, but again the Wizards got back within two before the deficit grew back to nine.
Arenas' 3-pointer from the right wing got Washington within 66-65 in the third quarter before the Thunder extended their lead again with a 16-6 spurt, capped by Sefolosha's 3-pointer that made it 82-71.
Naturally, the Wizards countered by reeling off 10 straight points - getting within one again before Oklahoma City's 9-0 counterpunch.
Wizards G Mike Miller went to the locker room with his left arm dangling at his side after a spill in the first quarter, but returned midway through the second quarter. He had missed three games earlier this month with a sprained joint in his left shoulder. ... After scoring a season-low 12 points in Oklahoma City's last game, Durant had 12 in the first 14 minutes. ... Thunder C Etan Thomas, who was acquired from the Wizards in an offseason trade, didn't score and had two rebounds in his first game against his old team.