The Washington Wizards fell short in trying to topple the visiting Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday at Capital One Arena. The Wiz never trailed by more than 13, but just couldn’t fully close the gap in the 136-128 affair.
Deni Avdija, fresh off his 23-point, 10-rebound effort against the Knicks, started off aggressive against OKC. The 4-year pro forced the Thunder into a quick timeout after back-to-back buckets off made baskets in the first 90 seconds.
A couple of Thunder runs pushed the Wizards behind by double figures a couple of times in the first half. The Thunder raced out to a 49-37 lead midway through the second quarter. Washington was able to keep pace to end the half thanks to Kyle Kuzma, who scored 10 straight points late in Q2 to keep the game close. Wizards trailed 67-61 at the break.
Kuzma led the Wiz with 14 points and 9 rebounds at the half. Tyus Jones contributed 11 points and 3 assists, while Avdija had 10 first-half points.
Jordan Poole took the baton in the third quarter. He poured in 15 points in Q3 as the Wizards stayed close throughout, even cutting the deficit 100-97 on a Kuzma layup with under a minute left in the quarter.
Landry Shamet, as expected, kept the Wiz afloat in the fourth. From the 7:42 to 5:04, the veteran guard scored all 12 of Washington’s points. But the good guys just could not generate enough stops late to mount a comeback.
Kuzma had the best line of the night, tallying 22 points, 15 rebounds, and 5 assists. Poole led the Wizards in scoring with 24 points. Jones, Avdija, and Shamet all broke the 15-point plateau.
Bilal Coulibaly was taught a brief lesson in defending star talent after being matched up with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander on a few early possessions. The Thunder guard drew a couple of quick fouls on the Wiz rookie in the first quarter.
The Frenchman tried to get his revenge with a near-poster dunk on SGA. Coulibaly couldn’t complete the highlight, but he did draw a foul and sank two free throws.