Final Score: Wizards 96 Thunder 81
Ten game win streak? Best record in the NBA? Hottest shooter in the game? Few things intimidate the Washington Wizards at the Verizon Center, and tonight was no different. In another statement game for the Wizards, the home team put on a show, taking down the Oklahoma City Thunder 96-81.
Recently announced All-Star John Wall paced the team with 17 points, 15 assists, and 6 steals. His strong play tonight makes him the third player in the past 10 years to put up at least 15, 15, and 6.
Trevor Ariza led all Wizards scorers with 18 points, and Nene added 17 points, capped by his first three pointer since the 2010-2011 season.
Kevin Durant scored 26 points on 8 of 21 shooting, and added 7 assists and 5 rebounds. Serge Ibaka posted 14 points along with 8 rebounds and 4 blocks.
The Wiz could not keep Kevin Durant from getting to the hoop, but played strong defense, holding the Thunder to their lowest scoring game of the season. Oklahoma City shot 39.7% from the field and turned over the ball 21 times. Reggie Jackson committed a team-high eight, while Durant added five.
The game was defined by turnovers. Washington scored 23 points off of the 21 turnovers committed by Oklahoma City, while the Thunder only managed 10 points off of Wizards mistakes.
A night after Oklahoma City held the Brooklyn Nets to only 17 rebounds, the lowest team mark in the history of the NBA, the Wizards attacked the boards, pulling down 40 rebounds, including 14 by Marcin Gortat.
The Wizards did not only snap the Thunder's 10 game win streak, including a 6-0 mark on the road, but returned to .500 for the 7th time this season.
Washington controlled almost every facet of the game tonight, and if the team can continue their hot play at home, they can have a winning record for the first time this season.
The next home game for the Wiz will be on Monday, February 3rd, against the Portland Trail Blazers. Tip-off at the Verizon Center is set for 7:00. - Jack Persons
The Wizards have figured out how to play team basketball tonight, and so far it has paid off.
Washington added to their lead in the third, taking a 78-64 lead over Oklahoma City into the last 12 minutes.
Nene and Trevor Ariza have 12 points a piece, while Marcin Gortat and John Wall both have scored 15 each. Wall has continued tearing up the Thunder, with 15 assists and 5 steals to add to his points.
Kevin Durant leads the Thunder with 24 points and 7 assists, while Serge Ibaka has 14 points and 8 rebounds.
The Wiz managed to outrebound the Thunder in the third, and if they continue to work their opponents on the boards, they should have no problem holding their lead and taking down the best team in the West. - Jack Persons
During a run of scoring as historic and efficient as Kevin Durant has had, a team can only hope to hold him down so long. He finally heated up in the second quarter, scoring 10 points while bringing the Thunder back into the game. John Wall and the Wizards, however, knew how to respond.
At the half, Washington leads Oklahoma City 42-38.
Trevor Ariza connected at the two-minute mark of the second quarter, snapping a 14-0 Thunder run that brought them within one point of the Wizards lead. The Wiz managed to push the lead back up to six before heading to the locker room with a four point advantage.
John Wall continues to rack up numbers in every statistic, with 2 points, 3 rebounds, 5 steals, and 8 assists. No Wizard has hit double digits in scoring yet, but Ariza leads the team with 9 points, while Martell Webster and Nene have 8 each.
Durant has 15 points so far in the contest on 6-14 shooting from the floor, but has been well defended by the Wizards and has turned over the ball four times.
The only area the Thunder have outplayed the Wizards in is rebounding, with a 27-20 advantage. For the Wiz to win tonight, they need to crash the boards just a bit harder in the second half, while making Durant earn his points. Not an easy task by any means, but necessary. - Jack Persons
The Wizards are at it again tonight at the Verizon Center, trying to down another heavyweight title contender. Through the first quarter, Washington leads the Oklahoma City Thunder, 25-13. Trevor Ariza leads the Wiz with 7 points, while John Wall has 6 assists, 4 steals, and 3 rebounds. Kevin Durant has not been his dominant self through the first period, only scoring 5 points on 2-7 shooting from the field. The Wizards played solid defense, holding the Thunder to 27.3% shooting, and forcing 10 total turnovers.
Washington needs to keep double teaming Durant as they have and hope the rest of the Thunder stay cold. - Jack Persons
Closing in on tip-off here at Verizon Center as we get set for #WizThunder.
Tonight will be quite a challenge as the Thunder are the hottest team in the NBA, winners of their last ten games and coming off a blowout win over the Nets in Brooklyn last night.
They are the hottest team with the hottest player as Kevin Durant is playing at another level right now.
Randy Wittman talked about how all his team can do is make things as difficult as possible for Durant and can't hang their head when he makes tough shots:
The Thunder are 3rd in the NBA in scoring and Durant is a major reason why, but he also has a solid supporting cast with guys like Serge Ibaka and Reggie Jackson. Ibaka is coming off a 25 point effort on 12-12 shooting last night in Brooklyn and can hurt teams from both inside and out. He's also an excellent shot blocker and can be a real force in the paint.
The Wizards will need to bring their "A" game again tonight if they want to snap the Thunder's win streak and start this home-stand off on the right foot.
The Live Chat kicks off at 7pm from Verizon Center!
New game balls with the new commissioner, Adam Silver's signature on it for tonight's game.
After a week out west, we return home to host the NBA's best and hottest team tonight; the Oklahoma City Thunder.
If you've been living under a rock since we hit 2014, you may have missed what Kevin Durant has done over the last month. He averaged just under 36 points per game in January, scored over 30 points 13 times and over 40 points five times.
The Thunder have played without their All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook, but have still managed to win their last ten games and enter tonight as hot as any team has been all season.
Luckily, the Wizards have taken notice and will be well prepared tonight. Although, right now, there's not too much a team can do to slow down this historic stretch from the D.C. native.
They talked about taking on Durant and the Thunder after practice yesterday
Wittman on KD and the Thunder :
Wall on KD and the Thunder :
Webster on KD and the Thunder :
The Wizards have beaten the Thunder two straight times at Verizon Center over the last two seasons and took this Thunder team to overtime in OKC back in November. They had a double-digit fourth-quarter lead in that last game, but the Thunder made a late rally, many thanks to Durant, and were able to force OT and squeak out a win.
This will be the first game John Wall plays after being named an All-Star on Thursday night. He leads Eastern Conference point guards with 16 double-doubles.
Bradley Beal could have his minutes restriction lifted after a visit to the doctor yesterday, so that will be something to keep an eye on as we get closer to the game.
This is the first of a five-game homestand for the Wizards, with the next three coming against the top three teams in the Western Conference (Oklahoma City, Portland, San Antonio).
We'll be back with more during pregame.