– by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief
WASHINGTON, — While the frustration at the slow start to their season has started to subside with the Oklahoma City Thunder, it only continues to build in the nation’s capital.
Russell Westbrook scored 23 points and added 12 assists to spark the Thunder to an easy 134-111 road victory over Washington, Oklahoma City’s fourth consecutive win and second in as many nights. After starting the season 0-4, the Thunder are now back to the .500 mark.
The cavernous final margin somehow does not fully encapsulate how dominant the Thunder were tonight, especially in the decisive second quarter when Oklahoma City outscored Washington 44-20 and opened up a 29-point bulge at halftime when Paul George hit a three-pointer – his third consecutive three – right before the end of the second quarter.
Westbrook, after missing the first two games of the season while recovering from offseason knee surgery, has found his rhythm on both ends of the floor; Tonight marked his second consecutive points-assists double-double while also recording four steals against Washington, the fourth consecutive game he has had at least three steals.
“We just pride ourselves on defense, starting with myself and going down the line,” said Westbrook, who put up all of his stats tonight in the first three quarters as he sat out the fourth. “That’s our objective, especially in my mind, to be the best defensive team in the league, just disrupt the game.”
Washington’s season has been nothing but disruptions and dysfunction, as a team seen as a contender in the Eastern Conference going into the season now drops to 1-7, once again allowing teams to score at will. Before tonight, Washington ranked last in the league in opponents’ points per game at 122.4.
Oklahoma City had 110 points after three quarters.
“They got layups after layups, wide-open threes,” said Wizards guard John Wall, who had 19 points and nine assists but also committed seven turnovers. “They did whatever they wanted.”
Tonight marked the Wizards debut of Dwight Howard, who missed all of training camp and every game since the start of the preseason with gluteal soreness. He scored 20 points, including 13 in the first quarter when the competitive nature of the game was still in the balance. Brought in to be a dominant preseason in the paint, something the Wizards have struggled with in the past few years, Howard grabbed three rebounds in his 23 minutes of action.
*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Friday’s game, with all photos taken by DC-Area photographer Yusuf Abdullah. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are currently six pictures in total.