OKC Thunder fade late once again to lose to Wizards, start NBA season with two defeats

The crowd was fired up after Shai Gilgeous-Alexander's jumper capped a rally and tied it in the closing minutes against the Washington Wizards.

The new-look Oklahoma City Thunder, in their first home game since trading away All-Stars Russell Westbrook and Paul George in the offseason, seemed prepared to give their fans some hope.

The Wizards, unfazed, responded with a 14-0 run and beat Oklahoma City 97-85 this afternoon.

"I told the guys that's why the fans are going to fall in love with our team — because we give a lot of incredible effort," Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. "I mean, it's maximum effort every time on the court, and some of the time, you don't know what's going to happen."

Thomas Bryant had 21 points and 11 rebounds, rookie forward Rui Hachimura scored 19 points and Bradley Beal added 17 for Washington.

Oklahoma City shot just under 40 percent, made just 14 of 22 free throws and had 19 turnovers.

Gilgeous-Alexander scored a career-high 28 points and Danilo Gallinari added 18 for the Thunder. Point guard Chris Paul, who scored six points in 30 minutes and had four assists and five turnovers, blamed himself for the loss.

"If I would have contributed at all we would have won the game, and that's something, and you can't sugar coat it," he said.

Things haven't much better for Kiwi centre Steven Adams though.

Adams has made 4 of 17 field goals and 2 of 8 free throws the first two games. He's averaging 12.5 rebounds, but his offensive struggles have hurt a team that has been in two close games to start the season.

He scored seven points alongside 14 rebounds today.

The Wizards led 52-46 at halftime, then scored the first six points of the second half. The Wizards led 78-70 at the end of the third quarter.

The Thunder held the Wizards scoreless for the first 4 1/2 minutes of the fourth quarter to tighten the game. Gilgeous-Alexander's mid-range jumper tied it at 83 with 4:26 to play.

Washington responded quickly. A 3-pointer by Davis Bertans put the Wizards up by five, and a layup by Beal forced a Thunder timeout. The Thunder made just one more basket the rest of the way, and that came with 20.9 seconds remaining.

Brooks said Washington is improving because the team's young players have the right attitude.

"It's hard to teach when you have students who aren't interested in learning," Brooks said. "I love the group that we have. We want to get better, and that's a coach's dream."

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander attempts a shot against the Washington Wizards. Source: Associated Press

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