The Thunder entered Tuesday’s game against Washington having already matched its eight total road victories from last season, and more and more the team’s improvement is being recognized at each stop. Oklahoma City limped into the Verizon Center 3-27 one year and two days ago and lost 104-95 to the Wizards. But when asked about the difference in his team’s enhanced performances on the road, Thunder coach Scott Brooks said OKC is simply a better team. "We’ve been together for another year, and Sam (Presti) has added some good pieces and the guys are improving,” Brooks said. "We’re a better team than we were last year, but we should be. If they’re not improving then we’re not doing our job.”
Mullens to see spot minutesByron Mullens made his NBA debut inside the final minute of the Thunder’s 105-89 blowout of the Nets on Monday night at New Jersey. Brooks said he wanted to give the rookie center more time than the 40 seconds he played but didn’t want to call a late timeout out of respect to the Nets. Mullens, however, could begin to receive an opportunity in similar late-game situations, Brooks said. "I’m happy with it,” Mullens said of his debut. "I’ve got to start somewhere. I’m glad I started with 40 seconds. It’s better than none. My teammate, Serge (Ibaka), that’s how he started out, with a few seconds at the end and he’s getting a lot of reps now.” Mullens said his stint on the court was too brief to get a feel for how much different the NBA game is but said he was more excited because of the atmosphere.
Mama knows best?Durant did something Tuesday that he hasn’t done all season. He wore a suit to the game, a blue pinstriped get-up that served as his unexpected homecoming outfit. "My mom, when she was at my house, she packed my bag and she snuck it in there,” Durant said. "I don’t wear suits to the games, but I did it since I came back home. She knew what she was doing, but it’s cool. It’s Mom’s.”
Ollie close to returningReserve guard Kevin Ollie, who hasn’t played since Nov. 22 while recovering from knee surgery, said he hopes to return to practice in the team’s next scheduled session, likely Friday before the team departs for Milwaukee. Ollie has steadily increased his workouts over the past few days and said he now feels only slight discomfort in his knee when sprinting at full speed.
BrieflyPrior to pregame introductions, the Wizards held a moment of silence for George Michael, the longtime Washington, D.C.-based sportscaster who recently passed away at age 70. ... Mullens injured his right ring finger before the game while working on his conditioning by running up the lower bowl’s steps. Mullens hit his hand hard on the stadium’s rails. He iced his finger before the game and said he was OK. ... Former Kansas star Nick Collison was asked about his alma mater’s basketball program on this road trip and said, "They’re loaded. I think they’re going to win the whole thing. I think they’re the best team.” ... A "Kiss Cam” skit midway through the third quarter put Collison and Serge Ibaka on the big screen. Both players laughed when they saw their images displayed.