By Randy Renner
The Thunder could have rookie Cameron Payne back in their lineup tonight if all goes well today at the team’s shoot-around.
“Anytime a guy (with concussion symptoms) goes through a workout the medical staff wants to see how he responds to that and I think if he’s got any kind of dizziness or light-headedness or any kind of set back I would say he would be doubtful for playing,” head coach Billy Donovan said after Sunday’s practice.
“But if he continues to progress like he has and he gets through shoot-around and gets through the baseline tests and the medical staff feels good then they’ll probably clear him to play.”
Payne participated in part of Sunday’s practice and appeared to be fine. He’s been out almost a week since suffering a concussion against the Knicks last Tuesday night.
The last time the Thunder played the Wizards they were short-handed too, losing Kevin Durant just before halftime to a strained hamstring.
OKC went on to blast Washington 125-101 that November night and Wizards coach Randy Wittman blasted his team for a lack of toughness in postgame interviews after it was outrebounded 53-41 and allowed the Thunder to shoot 15-for-23 from 3-point range in that contest. Washington hasn't been much better lately on defense allowing an average of 110.7 points over a 2-5 stretch.
Saturday night the Wizards let Houston go 17-for-35 (48.6 percent) from 3-point range but held a 45-37 rebounding advantage in ending a three-game skid with Saturday's 123-122 road win.
Wittman coached after his brother, Rick, died on Friday, but the team announced Sunday that assistant Don Newman will fill in while Wittman misses the next two games.
Tonight will feature a showdown between two of the league’s top point guard in Russell Westbrook and John Wall.
Westbrook has totaled 54 points, 19 assists and 19 boards in his past two games in this series, including a triple-double with 22 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists in the November game. The All-Star point guard had his sixth triple-double Friday with 26 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds in OKC’s 116-108 win over Houston.
"It's part of my job, man," Westbrook said. "Just trying to find guys, getting the ball where they can score, keep the pace up."
Wall comes in averaging 19.5 points and 9.8 assists per game and rang up 19 points, 13 assists and eight rebounds against the Rockets on Saturday.
The Wizards, now 21-24, and their point guard have struggled lately with the Thunder and have lost six in a row at Oklahoma City (36-13), though two of those defeats came in overtime. Wall has averaged 14.3 points on 30.4 percent shooting in his last six meetings overall and is shooting just 31.3 percent over his last four games.
Durant has always played well against his old hometown team in his current hometown, averaging 32.3 points on 55.7 percent shooting in six career games against the Wizards played in Oklahoma City.
KD has been rolling lately, scoring at least 20 points in 33 straight games. He went off for 33 points and 12 rebounds against Houston giving him a 34.0 scoring average while pulling down 11.3 boards per contest over his last four games.
Oklahoma City has won 17 of its past 19 home games and its 25-5 record since December 6th is percentage points behind Golden State (23-4) and San Antonio (22-4) over that same time frame.
The Thunder are now averaging 109.6 points, second only to the Warriors, after scoring 123.3 per game while making 49.2 percent from 3-point range in their last three games. Backup center Enes Kanter also has been a key contributor with 45 points and 20 rebounds over his past two.
Tipoff is set for 7:10 this evening from The Peake. You can see the game on Fox Sports Oklahoma and as usual you can keep updated by checking out our Twitter feed page. We’ll have the latest from shoot-around today and then we’ll let you know what Coach Donovan says about Cam Payne when he meets with reporters before the game.