OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – Thunder stars Paul George and Carmelo Anthony couldn’t find their shooting rhythm, so Russell Westbrook went into attack mode and overwhelmed the Wizards.
Westbrook scored a season-high 46 points, and Oklahoma City beat Washington 121-112 on Thursday night for its sixth straight victory.
“I just read the game honestly and if it’s time for me to take over, then that’s what I do,” Westbrook said.
George scored 18 points on 6-for-19 shooting and Anthony added 13 on 4-for-11 shooting. Westbrook filled in the gap by making 19 of 29 field goals in one of his most efficient shooting performances of the season.
“We need him to be that way,” Oklahoma City reserve point guard Raymond Felton said. “Some nights he can score 46, some nights he can score 20. Whatever it is, we still need him to be aggressive the way he was tonight.”
Steven Adams added 12 points and 10 rebounds for Oklahoma City, which has won 20 of 28 after an 8-12 start.
Anthony is still getting used to his team winning when he has off nights.
“I’ve got to remind myself that I am on the team with somebody else, and they do some of the things that you are capable of doing that you have been doing your whole career,” he said. “But for me to be on the same side as that – I don’t have to go after it every night. I just take what the other team is giving us. It’s a beauty to watch when it’s working and when it’s clicking, especially now when we are winning games.”
Bradley Beal scored 41 points, John Wall had 21 and Markieff Morris added 20 for the Wizards, who committed 23 turnovers.
The Thunder took a 54-40 lead into halftime, but Washington tied the score at 68 before the Thunder rallied. Felton hit back-to-back 3-pointers to put the Thunder up 10, and Oklahoma City led 82-74 at the end of the period.
A powerful right-handed jam by Westbrook gave the Thunder a 92-85 lead in the fourth, and a steal by George led to a dunk by Westbrook that put Oklahoma City up 99-89 with just under seven minutes to play. Westbrook punctuated his performance with a two-handed breakaway jam with about a minute remaining.
“We came back,” Beal said. “I don’t think the deficit was too bad. It was just those offensive rebounds and those turnovers down the stretch.
“We clawed back into the game, we were moving the ball in transition efficiently, getting rebounds, and all of a sudden, that kind of died down and stopped. When that happens, the game totally flipped in their favor and the momentum changed.”
Wizards: Coach Scott Brooks spent seven years as Thunder coach. … Went more than four minutes without scoring to start the game. … C Ian Mahinmi committed three fouls in three minutes in the first quarter and finished with four fouls in 11 minutes.
Thunder: George drained a 3-pointer at the first-quarter buzzer but was called for a technical foul on the play. … Westbrook will be on the Team LeBron All-Star squad along with former Thunder player Kevin Durant.
JOKE’S ON WESTBROOK
Anthony had Westbrook, whose name appeared last, convinced the list of All-Stars was in order of selection. After Westbrook learned that the list was alphabetical, he responded to his teammate.
“See, I told you man, it’s in alphabetical order man,” he told Anthony. “Of course I was first.”
Westbrook is averaging just 2.5 3-point attempts during Oklahoma City’s win streak. He averaged 4.6 per game before that.
“Yeah, trying to keep attacking the basket and find ways to get in the paint and make plays happen,” he said.
Beal on whether Adams, who was issued a technical foul for kicking him in the groin in the third quarter, did it intentionally: “I don’t know if it was or not, all I know is I got kicked where I shouldn’t have.”
Wizards: at Atlanta on Sunday.
Thunder: at Detroit on Sunday.
Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP .
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