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Wizards open long homestand by slipping past Thunder

Sportsnaut
Jan 11, 2022; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Washington Wizards center Daniel Gafford (21) looks to pass as Oklahoma City Thunder center Derrick Favors (15) defends during the first half  at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 11, 2022; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Washington Wizards center Daniel Gafford (21) looks to pass as Oklahoma City Thunder center Derrick Favors (15) defends during the first half at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Kuzma scored 29 points as the Washington Wizards opened an eight-game homestand with a 122-118 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope banked in a 3-pointer with 31 seconds left to break a tie and the Thunder couldn’t answer, as Luguentz Dort’s 3-pointer sailed wide of the basket on the next possession.

Kuzma hit a free throw with 13 seconds left to make it a two-possession game, and Oklahoma City couldn’t answer.

Washington has won back-to-back games while the Thunder has lost the last five and seven of eight.

The Wizards were without star Bradley Beal, who entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols for the second time in a month.

But Kuzma — coming off a 27-point, 22-rebound performance Sunday in Orlando — was strong once again.

Kuzma hit all seven of his first-half shots, scoring 12 in the first quarter. He finished 12 of 17 from the floor, hitting 20 points for the eighth consecutive game.

Spencer Dinwiddie had 22 points and 10 rebounds for Washington while Caldwell-Pope added 16 points. Montrezl Harrell, who returned after missing seven games, scored 12 off the bench.

Oklahoma City’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had struggled offensively over the past five games, shooting just 33 percent overall and 21 percent on 3-pointers. But he got going early against the Wizards, helping fuel a 23-8 run that pulled the Thunder from down 10 five minutes into the game to leading by the end of the first quarter.

Gilgeous-Alexander scored 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting in the first quarter, all from inside the arc.

Gilgeous-Alexander finished with 32 points and eight assists on 13-of-22 shooting to lead the Thunder. He attempted just two 3-pointers.

Josh Giddey tallied 18 points, eight assists and six rebounds for Oklahoma City while Dort added 17 points and Darius Bazley 14.

The Thunder led by eight in the third before the Wizards erased the deficit quickly, with Dinwiddie leading the way.

In a 10-2 Washington run, Dinwiddie hit two baskets, assisted on the other two and had a steal to help tie the game in a little more than a minute.

–Field Level Media