Wizards at Thunder
A pair of newly minted All-Star point guards will square off when Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder host John Wall and the Washington Wizards on Thursday. Both Wall and Westbrook were named All-Star reserves when the rosters were announced on Tuesday.
Westbrook celebrated his All-Star selection by scoring 32 points to lead the Thunder to a fifth straight win, 109-108 over Brooklyn on Tuesday, but was upset that teammate Paul George was not named to the All-Star team. “Unbelievable. I think it’s just outrageous, in my opinion,” Westbrook told reporters of the snub. “I don’t know who else made the team but got four people from one team, you’ve got guys complaining about getting snubbed until they get in, you’ve got guys just talking about it all the time. But the guys that deserve it — should be in — are not. I just don’t understand. Doesn’t make any sense.” The Wizards are struggling with losses in three of their last four games, including a 98-75 setback at Dallas on Monday, but had two players named to the All-Star team as shooting guard Bradley Beal joined Wall. “It’s a blessing and an honor,” Beal, who is heading to his first All-Star Game, told the Washington Post. “Still hasn’t hit me yet, a little bit. I’m definitely happy about it. I’m sure it will probably hit me later tonight, whenever it does.”
TV: 8 p.m. ET, TNT
ABOUT THE WIZARDS (26-21): Beal (23.6 points) leads Washington in scoring while Wall (9.2 assists) ranks second to Westbrook (10) in the NBA in assists. “It’s an honor,” Wall told reporters of being named to his fifth All-Star team. “Without my teammates and coaching staff and the fans and the other coaches respecting (me), I wouldn’t be in this position. To be able to be with Brad for his first time is a big honor. We all know it should be his second time, but it’s an honor I get to be with him at the same time.” Wall hasn’t been playing much like an All-Star of late as he is shooting 35.6 percent while averaging 4.8 turnovers in his last five games.
ABOUT THE THUNDER (27-20): George, who made the Eastern Conference All-Star team four times while with Indiana, is averaging 20.9 points while shooting 42.2 percent from 3-point range in his first season with Oklahoma City. The 27-year-old collected 28 points and nine rebounds in Tuesday’s win after going off for 36 points on 12-of-19 shooting in a win at Cleveland on Saturday. “It wasn’t going to put me in a funk or cause me to be in a lost place or a sunken place,” George told reporters of not being named an All-Star. “I didn’t make All-Star. It is what it is. I’ve got a longer break in between the season now.”
1. Thunder F Carmelo Anthony, a 10-time All-Star who also missed out this season, had a string of three straight performances of 20-plus points come to an end when he scored only 10 on Tuesday.
2. Washington SF Otto Porter Jr. (hip) is sitting out practice and questionable for Thursday.
3. The teams split two meetings last season, with Oklahoma City earning a 126-115 win at home behind 35 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists from Westbrook.