OKLAHOMA CITY – 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 on Friday.
“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,” Washington 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.”
It was far from a one-man show.
Thomas Bryant had 21 points and 11 rebounds, rookie forward Rui Hachimura scored 19 points and star Bradley Beal finished with 17 for the Wizards.
Two-days after registering a double-double in an impressive regular-season debut, the 21-year-old Hachimura shot 8-for-20 from the floor. He also grabbed five boards, dished a pair of assists and was 3-from-3 from the free-throw line in nearly 35 minutes after starting at power forward.
In a composed performance, the No. 9 draft pick made key contributions in the fourth quarter to help Washington pull away for the win.
“Just him staying poised and being aggressive,” Bryant was quoted as saying about his rookie teammate, according to The Washington Post. “Sticking to the game plan, day in and day out. Just taking it day by day. He’s not forcing anything.
“He’s letting the game come to him, and when he sees openings, he’s aggressive with them.”
Hachimura drilled a pull-up jump shot from 3.6 meters to put the Wizards up 85-83 with four minutes and nine seconds left on the clock, then stole the ball on a bad pass from Oklahoma City point guard Chris Paul a minute later.
With 2:10 remaining, Hachimura hit a pair of free throws to help put the game out of the Thunder’s reach at 94-83.
Lakers 95, Jazz 86
In Los Angeles, Anthony Davis had 21 points and seven rebounds during his home debut for the Lakers, and LeBron James had 32 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds in a triumph over Utah.
Celtics 112, Raptors 106
In Boston, Jaylen Brown had 25 points, hitting a key 3-pointer in the closing minutes for the Celtics.
In Other Games
Nets 113, Knicks 109
Bulls 110, Grizzlies 102
Trail Blazers 122, Kings 112
Timberwolves 121, Hornets 99
Mavericks 123, Pelicans 116
Nuggets 108, Suns 107 (OT)
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5