You might have figured before the season began that the Thunder would be 4-4 at this point; you might not have figured that they’d get two of those four wins from a back-to-back on the road. Yet there it is. They came back from a 19-point deficit to edge the Hornets in Charlotte last night, and tonight they upended the Washington Wizards early and held on. OKC had a 35-30 lead after the first quarter, which is a fair chunk of scoring, but probably no one was expecting the Thunder to pile up 44 points in the second quarter. (You may remember that it took them the entire first half to score 44 against Charlotte.) It was 79-50 at halftime; the lead swelled to 32 before the Wizards started putting together some runs. Still, despite occasional lapses late, the Thunder won it by twenty-three, 134-111, and all of a sudden a team that had been struggling to score points is now looking, for the moment anyway, like a powerful offensive force. Not that the Wizards have a killer defense.
With Washington, it’s Wall and Beal, Beal and Wall, game after game. All-Stars, and they play like it. What you weren’t counting on was the return of Dwight Howard, and the younger Dwight Howard at that; there’s Bradley Beal with 27, there’s John Wall with 19 — and there’s Dwight Howard with 20. On 7-8 shooting. Of course, to be the real Younger Dwight Howard, he’d have had to block a shot here and there, but he didn’t. Still, the fact that he can still contribute in his 15th season is heartening to some of us old folks.
And isn’t it amazing how much more productive Russell Westbrook is when he isn’t jacking desperation treys? Ten for sixteen tonight, and 23 points, plus a dozen dimes. Jerami Grant tossed in an unheard-of 22 points. In fact, four of five Thunder starters showed up in double figures, and Terrance Ferguson, with nine, barely missed. (The Fergster put up five shots, all from three-point range, and made three. This from a guy who’d made one trey all season up to tonight.) From the field, OKC shot 57 percent — which one must do to beat the Wiz, who checked in with nearly 52 — 15-32 from outside the arc, and, get this, 21 of 26 free throws. Respectable, that.
Now comes a weekend off, and then a Monday greeting of the New Orleans Pelicans, who may or may not have Anthony Davis back from his elbow injury.