Westbrook’s vintage performance at The Peake gives Thunder 13th straight loss

Out of all the changes for the Oklahoma City Thunder over the last two years, one of the strangest is the fact that there is not a single player remaining who was a teammate with Russell Westbrook.

In two seasons, the roster has completely transformed. The impact of Westbrook on the culture is still felt, but nobody on the team was here when Westbrook wore Thunder blue.

He was in a different jersey Friday, but it was a vintage performance from the point guard in his second game at Chesapeake Energy Arena since being traded from the Thunder. Westbrook picked up a triple-double a minute into the fourth quarter and finished with 37 points to go with 11 rebounds and assists apiece.

The Thunder lost 129-109 to extend their losing streak to 13, but it wasn’t necessarily an easy Wizards victory. Washington would build a lead, but they’d start making mistakes and the Thunder would start making pushes.

After Washington led by just two points at halftime, the Wizards burst into the second half with a 12-2 run.

Oklahoma City managed to not only stabilize, but to cut the deficit down to 96-90 with 1:18 to go in the third.

But things went haywire for the Thunder. Lu Dort was blocked on a layup attempt, Davis Bertans hit a 3-pointer on the other end, and then Dort was promptly T’d up for arguing that his blocked layup should have been a foul.

Instead of a two-possession game, the Thunder went into the fourth quarter with a double-digit deficit.

The Wizards built that lead to 14 before OKC cut it back down to nine.

With the lead dashed to single-digits, Washington called a timeout and got a bucket.

Then Dort committed a turnover. On the next Thunder possession, OKC got two offensive rebounds, but it ended on a Svi Mykhailiuk turnover. Bertans hit another 3 and then Theo Maledon turned the ball over. The next basket was a Bradley Beal and-one, and suddenly the Wizards were back up by 17 with 5:45 to play.

That was essentially it.

But it wasn’t simply that the Thunder were turning over the ball. It was more the fact that these came at inopportune times than the sheer quantity. Oklahoma City actually had fewer turnovers than the Wizards (20-16) and outscored Washington off turnovers (also 20-16).

“First time in a little bit that that’s been the case,” said head coach Mark Daigneault.

He put more blame on the defense than his own team’s turnovers.

“At the end of the day, it was a defensive problem as much as anything tonight,” Daigneault said. “Offense goes in and out, as we know, there’s some volatility to the offensive end. So you got to really be able to lock down defensively and control what you can control, between that and the glass.”

Washington had 70 points at the half and 100 at the end of the third quarter. The Thunder were outrebounded 50-40.

Like the last matchup against the Wizards, the Thunder took advantage of enough Washington miscues to make it a competition, but they couldn’t limit their own mistakes to get back into the game and have a lasting fighting chance.

Stars like Westbrook and Beal (33 points) can’t be getting second and third opportunities. There was a window of opportunity for Oklahoma City, but they couldn’t climb through.

Despite that, Daigneault noted that it was a competitive game, which has been one silver lining lately during this long losing streak.

“I thought we were ready to play tonight and we got beat by a better team,” Daigneault said. “We’ve had now five straight games, and if you include the Utah game before Golden State, six out of seven games that we’ve been really, really competitive in. … And I think that’s a reflection of our guys’ engagement.”

Thunder stats of the night

Isaiah Roby had 18 points, eight rebounds two steals and a block in 29 minutes off the bench. He played quite a bit of center, especially in the second half, which Moses Brown did not appear during. Brown had four fouls by halftime and Tony Bradley started at center in the second half. "Between the foul trouble and the way Tony played in short minutes -- obviously Roby at the 5 more squeezed those guys' minutes a little bit -- I didn’t plan on necessarily not going back to (Brown), it’s just how it worked out," Daigneault said. Darius Bazley scored 20 points for the third game in a row. He did so on better efficiency, making six of his 12 shots. He also had a career-high five steals. Theo Maledon scored 20 points and had eight assists, a block and a steal.