The Oklahoma City Thunder did beat the Washington Wizards 125-101 as if to show Kevin Durant what he’d be missing if he leaves, but an injury to the one-time MVP might make this blowout victory less than worth it.
Durant left the game with 14 points and 10 rebounds in 17 minutes, looking more than slightly motivated to forget about the storyline that persists he’ll end up playing for the Washington, his hometown, once he hits free agency this season, ending his eight-year relationship with the Thunder, that actually began in the city of Seattle, the last season ever for the Supersonics, unable to find a way back into the NBA.
It’s a strained hamstring, so it’s not as serious as his injuries from last season, but you can actually feel the suspense in the eyes and bodies of the Thunder personnel when they see something happen to Durant. A window of championships that seemed endless in 2012 when the young Thunder lost in the NBA finals feels as if it’s not so eternal anymore. At some point, even if it’s bad luck causing them to underachieve, this talent isn’t going to stay together.
Russell Westbrook did his best to repeat his impressive feats from last season, finishing with a triple double with still five minutes on the clock in the third quarter. He ended up scoring 22 points with 11 rebounds and a11 assists in just 28 minutes. This time, it ended happily for the Thunder, who saw some Herculean efforts from Westbrook result in nothing last season. This year it seems to be different, at least in terms of outcomes, as the Thunder are back to a couple of games above .500.
The Wizards at 3-4 might be the most disappointing team in the league after two weeks of basketball. However, no one should be surprised. Losing your starting small forward two years in a row is difficult to do, not to mention the absences of Bradley Beal and Nene. The Wizards are a very good team with a full lineup. Without even one of their key players they become a mediocre team, even in Eastern conference standards.
Despite the preseason hype, the Thunder aren’t playing the kind of basketball the front office envisioned when it fired Scott Brooks. This remains a team completely reliant on isolations and similar situations for their two big stars, with a little bit of Enes Kanter in the mix. The Durant injury did make them play some different basketball. Smarter, more team oriented. They’re not a better team without him, but it might help them facilitate a style it’ll be easier to blend him in when he comes back.