|5:00 PM PT6:00 PM MT7:00 PM CT8:00 PM ET0:00 GMT8:00 5:00 PM MST7:00 PM EST4:00 UAE (+1)02:0020:00 ET7:00 PM CT23:00 , October 25, 2019
Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Attendance: 18,203
Thunder welcome Wizards in first game of post-Russ era
Over the past decade, Oklahoma City has developed a reputation as having one of the best in-game atmospheres in the NBA.
That gets tested Thursday night when the Thunder open their home slate against the Washington Wizards. And this will be a home opener unlike any other the Oklahoma City fans have ever seen.
For the first time since the franchise moved from Seattle, the Thunder will play a home game without Russell Westbrook on its roster. Also gone is Westbrook's star sidekick the last two seasons, Paul George.
The net return -- for now -- of those two blockbuster offseason trades are Chris Paul, Danilo Gallinari and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
In Wednesday's season-opening loss in Utah, the trio combined for 69 points. The rest of the team scored just 26, however, including just three points from big man Steven Adams, who was just 1 for 8 from the field.
The Wizards are coming off a disappointing opener of their own, dropping a 108-100 decision at Dallas on Wednesday that included Bradley Beal being ejected with a little more than a minute remaining.
Beal's two technicals with 1:09 remaining were the culmination of a quarter-long battle with Mavericks star Luka Doncic. And though both dismissed it as being much made out of nothing after the game, Beal was upset that he was giving a second technical foul after waving off an official following the first call.
"It was just hoops," Beal told reporters. "You could see when I got kicked out, he came up and was the first one to dap me, so he understood what it was. We were fighting. It was just basketball, trying to frustrate him. He was kicking our butts, so you've got to do something."
Washington, too, has had plenty of roster turnover since last season, and has plenty of youth.
"We're throwing a lot of guys who haven't played in the NBA and haven't played a lot of minutes in the NBA (out there)," Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. "At times, there might be some surprising moments, and hopefully it's surprising on the good side of it."
Part of that youth movement, rookie Rui Hachimura said the Wizards will get better.
"This is just the beginning," Hachimura told reporters after scoring 14 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in his NBA debut.
"It is what it is and we have two more other games (on the road trip), so I feel like we have to play defense more and offensively we have to share more balls and stuff."
On the other side of Friday's game, Oklahoma City is still working to develop a new identity in the post-Westbrook era.
"We fight for 48 minutes," Gallinari said. "That's the way that we want to play, that's the way that we want to win games. That's the only way to win games and to play basketball."
A strong start at home is critical for the Thunder, who play seven of their first 10 games at home.
--Field Level Media
Updated October 24, 2019