Durant's homecoming cut short by hamstring woe

Kevin Durant, shooting over Marcin Gortat, has said that supporters of the Washington Wizards, who are rooting for him to join their team, should not be too enthusiastic in cheering for him. He cautions that it is disrespectful to the home side.
Kevin Durant, shooting over Marcin Gortat, has said that supporters of the Washington Wizards, who are rooting for him to join their team, should not be too enthusiastic in cheering for him. He cautions that it is disrespectful to the home side.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

WASHINGTON • Kevin Durant's homecoming ended sooner than expected when the Oklahoma City Thunder forward suffered a hamstring injury.

He did not play in the second half but guard Russell Westbrook picked up the slack with a triple-double as the Thunder trounced the Washington Wizards 125-101 in the National Basketball Association on Tuesday.

Westbrook finished with 22 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists for the Thunder, who led by as many as 29 points in the second half.

Guard Dion Waiters added 25 points and forward Serge Ibaka had 23. Oklahoma City (5-3) sank 15 of 23 three-pointers during their second straight win.

Durant, a fan favourite from the nearby Maryland suburbs near Washington, grabbed at his left leg late in the second quarter. He did not return for the second half as the team said he had suffered a hamstring strain.

The 2014 NBA Most Valuable Player still managed a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds while helping the Thunder take control early.

"It's a little sore, man, but I'll just get it checked out tomorrow," said Durant.

He played just 27 games last season as he battled to recover from a broken foot suffered in October.

Centre Marcin Gortat and guard Ramon Sessions scored 15 points while forward Otto Porter had 14 for the Wizards (3-4).

Washington avoided their recent rash of turnovers, yet lost their third straight game while conceding their most points this season.

"Well, it looked like we did not believe that we could win to me," Wizards coach Randy Wittman bluntly stated, following their largest loss of the season.

The home team played without guard and leading scorer Bradley Beal (shoulder) and forward Nene (back spasms). They were outrebounded 53-41 and shot 39.2 per cent from the field.

John Wall scored a season-low nine points. But the All-Star guard's focus post-game was not about the team's offence. Washington allowed an average of 119 points during the current three-game slide.

"Play defence," he said when asked what the team must fix.

The focus for many in the crowd at the Verizon Center, however, was on the local kid - and the hope Durant might return for good when he becomes a free agent next summer.

The Wizards are one of the teams expected to attempt to sign the 27-year-old, and their fans are leading a "KD2DC" movement.

But, earlier in the week, Durant told reporters in Oklahoma City he viewed the overt cheering for him in Washington over the Wizards, a play-off team, "disrespectful" to the home team.

Some fans clearly got the hint as the cheering was subdued for him during pre-game introductions, with some booing also heard.

Mild applause broke out when the All-Star forward sank back-to-back three-pointers in the opening period.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 12, 2015, with the headline 'Durant's homecoming cut short by hamstring woe'. Print Edition | Subscribe