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Thunder down Wizards in OT

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WASHINGTON — Guard Russell Westbrook’s late-game heroics ensured forward Kevin Durant’s latest homecoming wouldn’t end with another loss.

Durant scored 34 points in his highly anticipated return to Washington, and Westbrook sank a layup with 0.8 seconds left in overtime that gave the Oklahoma City Thunder a 105-103 win over the Wizards on Wednesday night.

Westbrook, who finished with 32 points, also scored the game-tying layup with 26.9 seconds remaining in regulation and had 25 points after halftime.

Durant and Westbrook scored all 13 points for Oklahoma City (22-20) in the extra session.

“It was great,” Westbrook said of the victory, which including rallying from a 12-point halftime deficit. “We did a great job of staying together, fighting all game long and we came up with the win.”

The Thunder earned a fourth straight victory and their fifth of six games. Center Steven Adams grabbed a career-high 20 rebounds.

Forward Nene scored nine of 24 points in the extra session for the Wizards (29-14).

“We played hard. They played harder,” Nene said. “That was the difference.”

Nene’s free throw gave Washington a 101-100 lead with 58 seconds remaining in overtime.

Durant’s pull-up 3-pointer on the next possession with 35 seconds put the Thunder up by two. Nene was credited with the tying basket following a goaltending call on guard Andre Roberson with 22.6 seconds remaining.

A foul on Washington gave Oklahoma City the ball on the left sideline with 3.6 remaining. As two defenders headed toward Durant far outside the 3-point arc, Westbrook received the inbounds pass. The speedster took advantage of the open path and drove for the easy game-winner.

“My job is to try and attack the basket and that is what I tried to do,” he said.

The subplot involved Durant’s yearly appearance in his hometown. Raised in the Maryland suburbs, the 2014 NBA Most Valuable Player is set to enter free agency in 2016. Reports surfaced in recent months that the resurgent Wizards are poised to make a run at the local hero, leading to an intense “KD2DC” campaign among area fans.

Signs with messages including “K.D. Phone Home” littered the sold-out arena, and Durant received cheers throughout. The halftime entertainment included an intrasquad scrimmage involving players from Montrose Christian, the Maryland prep school attended by Durant, who said pregame he secured 91 tickets for friends and family.

“It’s a blessing to play in the NBA,” Durant said. “To play at home in front of family and friends is something I really can’t describe because I don’t get this opportunity a lot so I not to take it for granted.”

As for the D.C. area fans wooing him and ever-present media attention, Durant said, “Everybody knows that I represent where I come from that no matter where I play at, no matter what arena. But I’m focused on playing with Oklahoma City. It feels like home now. That’s where I am.”

The Thunder stars labored from the field most of the game but combined to sink 18 of 21 free throws.

Guard John Wall had 18 points and 13 assists for the Wizards, who had won three straight at home over Oklahoma City. Wall shot an air ball with the game tied on Washington’s possession of regulation.

Forward Paul Pierce had 14 points and a season-high 12 rebounds.

The Thunder shot 30.4 percent and 0-for-10 on 3-pointers in the first half. They finished at 39.2 percent overall, 6-for-29 from beyond the arc.

“Defensively I thought we were pretty solid for most of the night until that last play,” Pierce said. “It’s no way you should give up a layup with three seconds to go.”

Washington entered the fourth quarter leading 70-66 but trailed 87-80 with 5:41 remaining. The Wizards were on top 92-90 after Pierce’s 3-pointer with 34.1 seconds left.

NOTES: The Wizards shot 38 percent from the floor and hit seven of 30 3-point attempts. … Wizards G Bradley Beal and Thunder G Dion Waiters were the third and fourth picks, respectively, in the 2012 draft. Waiters spent his first two-plus seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers before being shipped to Oklahoma City earlier this month. … Before shooting 10-for-23 Wednesday, Thunder F Kevin Durant was shooting 53.7 percent from the field, which would be a career best over a full season. … Game 4 of Oklahoma City’s five-game road trip takes place Friday in Atlanta against the Eastern Conference-leading Hawks. … Washington starts a four-game road stretch against Western Conference foes Saturday against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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