Wizards End Thunder’s 10-game Win Streak, 96-81
WASHINGTON — The first half ended with a case of the Marquee Miscues. Kevin Durant lost the ball to John Wall, and Wall then missed an open fast-break layup at the horn. It was Durant’s fourth turnover and Wall’s seventh miss in a row.
At halftime, Wall changed his shoes. Maybe that was the difference.
The newly minted first-time All-Star guard scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half, and the Washington Wizards took advantage of a rare off-night from Durant and snapped the Oklahoma Thunder’s 10-game winning streak Saturday with a 96-81 win.
“I didn’t like how I played on the road trip in my white shoes, so I tried the red ones,” Wall said. “They didn’t work in the first half, so I got rid of them and went back to my old white ones, and they kind of helped me out. I’m kind of superstitious.”
Wall also had 15 assists and six steals and went 7 for 11 from the field after halftime, more than making up for the 0-for-7 first half. Marcin Gortat had 14 points and 14 rebounds, while Trevor Ariza added 18 points and did a solid job defending Durant, whose 26 points came on 8-for-21 shooting, including 0 for 6 from 3-point range, and enough calls to make him 10 for 10 from the free-throw line. He also committed five turnovers.
“Just stay in his grille, man,” Ariza said. “Just try to make him take tough shots. Try not to give him no easy, easy looks.”
Durant had a streak of 12 consecutive 30-point games end during a 25-point win over the Brooklyn Nets on Friday. Sitting at his locker before Saturday’s game, his legs hooked up to compression tubes for a high-tech massage, he talked about the 100 or so tickets he had to secure for family and friends in D.C.
Whether it was hometown jitters — or fatigue from the night before — or the unfamiliarity of the new balls with Adam Silver’s signature on the first day of work for the new NBA commissioner — or the solid defense of Ariza — the city’s native son had a rough night fighting the Wizards defense.
“They made me see a crowd,” Durant said. “There were a few shots that I should have it hit. I had some good looks, but they did a good job.”
The Thunder’s only lead was 2-0. They committed 10 of their 21 turnovers in the first quarter.
“We were just a step slow in everything,” Durant said. “We didn’t start up with enough energy and intensity and that falls back on me as a leader.”
The victory moved the Wizards to .500 for the seventh time this season, which means they get yet another chance to overcome an obstacle that has flummoxed them in recent weeks. A win Monday against Portland would give Washington a winning record for the first time since October 2009.
“That’s cool for y’all. I don’t know if it’s cool for us,” said guard Garrett Temple, when the subject that has become increasingly taboo in the locker room was broached by reporters. “But we’ve got to not even worry about that. We’ve got a tough team coming here on Monday night.”
The Thunder had averaged 110.2 points during the winning streak, but they matched their season-low in points in a game against the Wizards. They did have a chance to tie the score in the second half when Derek Fisher was fouled while making a 3-pointer, but he missed the free throw that would have evened the game at 58.
From there, Wall and the Wizards pulled away. A Durant turnover became a Wall dunk. Wall’s floater gave Washington a 78-64 lead after three quarters.
The Thunder didn’t challenge the rest of the way, failing to get within single digits in the fourth.
“Twenty-one turnovers, 10 in the first quarter. That’s basically six minutes of basketball, giving them the ball back without ever trying to score,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “It wasn’t good enough — bottom line.”
NOTES: Temple went 3 for 4 with the new balls. “My shot felt real good. Even with those now Adam Silver balls,” he said. “It was slippery at first, but we got into a rhythm.” … The Thunder had won nine straight road games against Eastern Conference teams, while the Wizards had dropped five in a row at home vs. the West. … Durant’s hefty ticket purchase gave him a convenient excuse to laugh off the notion that he would think about playing for the Wizards someday. “I spent a lot of money on tickets today — imagine if I played here,” Durant said. “I don’t even want to think about that.”
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