Wizards, Thunder headed in different directions
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OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Oklahoma City Thunder and the Washington Wizards enter Thursday's game at Chesapeake Energy Arena in similar spots.
Washington is 26-21 and in fifth place in the Eastern Conference. Oklahoma City is 27-20 and in fifth place in the Western Conference.
The teams, though, appear to be heading in opposite directions.
The Thunder have won five in a row. Since Dec. 1, Oklahoma City is 19-8 overall but 14-0 when all five of their normal starters -- Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Carmelo Anthony, Andre Roberson and Steven Adams -- play.
Washington, on the other hand, has lost five of its last eight and has lost 11 games to sub-.500 teams this season after Monday's 98-75 loss at Dallas. But they've beaten Boston, Toronto and Houston.
That is similar to the Thunder, who have dropped games to teams such as Brooklyn, Dallas, Charlotte and Sacramento this season but have beaten the Warriors, Spurs, Raptors and Rockets.
The Wizards have allowed 98 or more points in 18 consecutive games. Washington is 13th in the league in points allowed per 100 possessions but during their last five games, the Wizards are 24th in that category, giving up 4.8 more points than their overall average.
Monday, the Wizards also didn't get much going offensively, with their second-lower scoring output of the season and a 31-percent performance from the floor.
Oklahoma City's defense has improved since Roberson returned to the lineup after missing a stretch of games and their offense appears to have found a rhythm as well.
The teams are also in different places when it comes to Tuesday's announcement of the NBA All-Star reserves.
The Wizards, even with their recent struggles, had two players named to the team -- John Wall and Bradley Beal.
The All-Star berth is the first of Beal's career.
Oklahoma City will be represented by one in Westbrook, leading the seven-time all-star to be upset over the exclusion of George, who is averaging 20.9 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.1 steals. George has made four All-Star games.
"Unbelievable," Westbrook said late Tuesday. "I think it's just outrageous, in my opening. I don't know who else made the team but got four people from one team (Golden State), you've got guys complaining about getting snubbed until they get in, you've got guys just talking about it all the time.
"But the guys that deserve it -- should be in -- are not. I just don't understand. Doesn't make any sense."
Wednesday, Thunder coach Billy Donovan was still upset.
"I just think that when you talk about the 12 best players in the West, I have a hard time believing he's not one of those guys," Donovan said. "He's played consistently enough. He's arguably the best two-way player in the league -- if not one of them. No question.
"So for me, if that's what the team is about, putting together the 12 best guys, I believe he's one of them."
Updated January 24, 2018