Don't read too much into Washington's 3-7 record. Many predicted the Wizards would make the playoffs. Look for a rapid climb in the standings now that Antawn Jamison has returned from a shoulder injury. Jamison scored 31points and grabbed 10 rebounds Wednesday night in his season debut, a 17-point win over Cleveland.
“They had some injuries,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “When they're healthy they're a much different team. They're a talented team. We'll have to play with energy and play well.”
For all the talk about the lack of a dominant defensive inside presence, Oklahoma City ranks eighth in the league in blocked shots (5.5).
Jeff Green (1.1) leads the team. Etan Thomas (0.9), Nick Collison (0.8), Thabo Sefolosha (0.8) and Kevin Durant (0.7) also are contributing.
“We're doing a good job with our weak-side (defense),” Brooks said. “Last year we struggled guarding the ball. This year we're doing a better job. We're not a great shot-block team but are putting ourselves in position to get a few.”
Green said: “We have athletic guys with long arms who can jump and force bad shots. It's just hustle, making a play.”
Three back-to-backs in a nine-day span ended with a lopsided loss at Orlando. But the Thunder is 4-3 away from the Ford Center, highlighted by road wins at San Antonio, Miami and Detroit. Last season OKC was 8-33 in road games.
“It shows we're growing as a team,” Durant said. “We know how to handle situations throughout a game. Last year when we were up nine points with about four minutes left (like at Miami) we probably would have given the game away. Now we're sustaining leads and making plays down the stretch.”
COLLISON'S ANKLE IMPROVING