By Randy Renner
Make no mistake, Thunder superstar Kevin Durant loves going home. He loves spending time back in his old neighborhood, hanging out with old friends and spending time visiting places that have been near and dear to him his entire life.
Yes he loves going home but he doesn't particularly like the frenzy his hometown area is getting itself into over the speculation that KD might end up working at the Verizon Center 41 nights a season instead of just one.
Last season when the Thunder visited some fans wore Wizards jerseys with Durant's name and number. There were a couple videos from a Washington DC TV station hyping Durant's possible return shown on the arena video board and the Wizards organization even allowed a photo-shopped image of Durant wearing a Wizards jersey to be shown during a sponsored segment on the big center court video board. And of course there were plenty of those "KD2DC" signs scattered all over the arena.
It was enough even to make a hometown guy more than a bit uncomfortable. Durant actually went so far as to call it "disrespectful" to the current Wizards players.
No doubt Durant will see much of the same types of things on this trip back home but he is much more focused in what he and his current teammates need to do to come away with a win.
"That's all I'm concerned with," Durant told reporters in Oklahoma City after Monday's practice. "Hopefully we go out there and play well and get a W."
Durant generally has played well in DC and he certainly did last season when he scored 34 points in the Thunder's 105-103 overtime victory at Washington on January 21st,
"You only get this opportunity once (a year)," he said after that game. "I was just happy I got to play in front of them (friends and family), and seeing my brother courtside and all my family, it was cool to get a win in front of them. Everybody was here, so I tried to focus on them and not worry about all that other stuff."
Durant's 30.5 scoring average against the Wizards marks his second-highest against one opponent, trailing only his 31.2 against Indiana. He's also scoring 31.5 over his last six trips to Washington.
Durant is sure to be asked before the game and after the game about his future. More than likely he will answer those questions much the way he has now for the past several months, that he is only focusing on the Thunder and bringing an NBA Championship to Oklahoma City.
As for the game tonight the Wizards have lost two straight and star shooting guard Bradley Beal was injured during Washington's loss to Atlanta on Saturday. Beal didn't practice on Monday but is expected to play tonight.
Beal, who was coached by Billy Donovan at Florida, leads the Wizards in scoring averaging 22.7 points a game and star point guard John Wall is close behind at 19.2. But that tandem has also been turning the ball over at a very high rate, averaging almost nine a game combined. As a team the Wizards now lead the NBA in turnovers at almost 20 a game and they had 26 givebacks in that 114-99 lost at Atlanta.
The Thunder have had their own troubles with turnovers but after a couple days of practice they've eased back on that some and their season average is down to 18 a game, still about three more than Donovan would prefer.
The game is set for a 6:10 central time tipoff and you can see it on Fox Sports Oklahoma.