Thunder Keep It Rolling Against Wizards
By Randy Renner
When the Oklahoma City Thunder left OKC on Saturday to begin their five game road trip back east most of us figured they probably needed to win three of the five games to keep some sort of momentum going and to keep hope for making a run to the playoffs alive.
Three games into the trip the Thunder already have those three wins. Orlando was a given, but a back-to-back against Miami and then a red hot Washington Wizards team would provide a much tougher test.
The Thunder put away both those teams with outstanding efforts in the fourth quarters, coming from behind to win each game to extend their winning streak to four straight games and bring their record to 22-20. They're now 19-8 since starting the season 3-12.
Last night Oklahoma City trailed by double-digits at halftime but rallied late to send the game into overtime and then Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant scored every OKC point in overtime. Westbrook got the winner on a layup with less than a second (:0.8) left to play giving he Thunder a thrilling 105-103 win.
“I tried to find a way to get a shot,” Westbrook said. “My job was to attack the basket and that’s what I tried to do.”
Westbrook took the inbounds pass and drove straight into an opening in the lane for the winning shot. He finished with 32 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.
Durant was out beyond the 3-point arc and could have also taken the pass but the play was designed for whoever was open.
“I was going to try to end the game myself,” Durant said. “Coach drew up a great play and Russ ran to the halfcourt line and they threw two at him and he was able to get free. And we said whoever catches it be aggressive. So it wasn’t just a play for me. It was a team play and Russell made a phenomenal, phenomenal move.”
Durant finished with 34 points in his hometown in front of almost 100 friends and family members.
"I hear the cheers and see people I've grown up with here and supporting, it means a lot to me," Durant said. "It's a blessing to play in the NBA, but to play at home in front of my family and friends, it's something that you really can't describe because I don't get this opportunity a lot, so I try not to take it for granted."
Before the game Durant faced a throng of local Washington, DC area media all asking about his future free agency and the possibilities that he could play for his hometown team and in front of those hometown fans all the time. His answer probably made Thunder fans breathe a bit easier, at least for now.
“I never thought about (playing for the Wizards), to be honest,” Durant said. “I mean, I hear it in the summertime. I heard it for the first time this summer. That’s when it started heating up. But I love playing for Oklahoma City, man. It’s just a certain level of pride that I have when I play with that Oklahoma City on my chest. So that’s the only thing that I focus on. Everybody knows that I represent where I come from no matter where I play at, no matter what arena. But I just focus on playing in Oklahoma City. It feels like home to me now. So that’s where I am.”
And hopefully where he'll stay.
This was the 31st game in which Durant and Westbrook each scored at least 30 points. To put that in perspective another famous duo, Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippin, accomplished the feat just 16 times in the 10 seasons they played together...Thunder center Steven Adams was a monster on the boards, collecting a career-high 20 rebounds while playing a career-high 39 minutes...After four straight hot-shooting games Dion Waiters has cooled off going just 5-for-21 in his last two games...The Thunder continue their five-game road trip in Atlanta Friday where the Hawks are flying high, winning 28 of their last 30 games. The trip concludes with a Sunday afternoon ABC game in Cleveland against LeBron James and the Cavs.