There’s something about coming back to his hometown that gets to Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder, carrying on with the tradition of losing to the Washington Wizards in the Verizon Center, finding it hard to contain John Wall with an impressive double double.
Wall scored 17 points and added 15 assists, leading the Wizards to a 96-81 win over the Thunder, improving to 23-23 this season. OKC lost for the first time after 10 consecutive wins and as always, most eyes went to Durant in win or loss.
Durant did score 26 points as rough first and third quarters doomed the Thunder from getting win number 11 in a row. He shot only 8-of-21 from the field with six of misses coming from beyond the arc, his worst 3-point shooting performance this season. The Thunder are now 2-5 with Durant when they get to visit Washington D.C., which also meant the end to his 30-points streak.
Durant was special in the final 8 games of the streak, becoming the first player in NBA history to average at least 35 points per game while shooting 60% from the field and 60% on 3-pointers (min. 20 3-pt attempts) over an 8-game stretch. It was only the second time this season he shot below 40% and didn’t make a single 3-point shot.
There wasn’t anything too special to Durant’s sudden cold streak. Trevor Ariza was the one who guarded him for most of the time, and just like it’s very hard to explain how Durant does get all of those circus shots to go off, Ariza didn’t do anything out of the ordinary to stop him. He stayed with him, had his hands in his face on most of the shots, and simply didn’t make it easy for Durant. Unlike previous games, the tough shots simply didn’t drop.
They made me see a crowd. There were a few shots that I should have it hit. I had some good looks, but they did a good job. We were just a step slow in everything. We didn’t start up with enough energy and intensity and that falls back on me as a leader. 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. It wasn’t good enough — bottom line.
The Thunder scored only 13 points in the first quarter as their defense seemed a step or two too slow for John Wall and his teammates. It didn’t matter that the Wizards were sometimes too fast for their own good with 46.1% from the field, but they forced 21 turnovers to score 23 points off of them and limited the Thunder to only 39.7% from the field. Things looked extremely bad when Derek Fisher was on the court, losing by 17 points during his 13 minutes of awful basketball.
For the Thunder, something had to bring them back to earth, although there’s a better chance of this being simply some fatigue and probability catching up with them. A team that relies on the shooting ability of just one player and mostly streaky shooting on offense is going to fall from time to time, but it’s more than likely that Washington didn’t really expose a major flaw in the system.