William J. FordNationalSports

OKC Hammers Wizards, Spoils Howard Debut

In his first game sporting a red, white and blue Washington Wizards uniform, Dwight Howard scored 13 points in the first quarter.

Although he finished with 19 points at halftime, the Oklahoma City Thunder cruised to 79 points in the first half. The Thunder finished the game Friday with a 134-111 blowout victory before a sellout crowd at Capital One Arena in northwest D.C.

Howard played in the starting lineup after he missed the seven games to recover from a buttocks muscle injury.

Dwight Howard
Washington Wizards center Dwight Howard goes up for a dunk during the Wizards’ 134-111 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder at Capital One Arena in D.C. on Nov. 2. (Yusuf Abdullah/The Washington Informer)

“We just have to continue to stay positive [and] continue to bring energy to our teammates,” said Howard, who finished the game with 20 points and three rebounds in 23 minutes. “This is the beginning of the season. We’re working some kinks out and I’m going to just preach positivity. I’ve been playing this game a long time. I just know that if you’re mental is right, anything is possible.”

Although the season remains early for Washington (1-7), Bradley Beal said the team must focus now.  

“We understand patience is running low from everybody. It’s not like we’re going out to lose any games, said Beal, who led all scorers with 27 points on 10-of-16 shooting. “We’re just coming up short.”

During a timeout, Beal grabbed the clipboard from head coach Scott Brooks. Beal said the Thunder ran a particular play several times for layups.

“I was just trying to explain where our help needs to come from,” he said. “I was just trying to encourage guys more and more and more. It is always tough because everybody wants to contribute and win. You love the effort and you love the fight, but we have to do it more collectively.”

The players and Brooks said defense — or a lack thereof — has been a constant theme in the team’s early season struggles.

Washington leads the NBA giving up an average of 122 points per contest. Oklahoma City (4-4) ranks 21st out of 30 teams in the league in points scored at 109 per game.

According to ESPN, the Thunder’s 79 points tied for the team’s most points scored in a half. The team also tied for its second-highest point total in a quarter with 44 points scored in the second stanza.

All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook led the Thunder with 23 points and 12 assists. Forwards Jerami Grant and Paul George added 22 and 17 points, respectively.

The Thunder shot 15 of 32, or 47 percent, from three-point range. In comparison, Washington shot 9 of 30, or 30 percent.

Friday was the third time this season a Washington opponent has come into D.C. on the tail end of a back-to-back set. Washington lost all three games.

The Wizards, one of three teams in the league with only one victory, will seek its second Sunday against the New York Knicks (3-6).

“I’ve been with the group for over two years. Were going to stick together,” Brooks said. Unfortunately, we’ve lost some games we wish we didn’t lose and a couple things here or there could have changed. Were going to start playing better together. Dwight was obviously a start to that. We got to come back Sunday and play much better for 48 [minutes].”

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William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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