- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The last time D.C. native Kevin Durant played in his hometown, he was dazzling a crowd of summer-league groupies in high school and college gyms and praying for an end to the NBA lockout.

Fast forward a couple of months, and Durant is back in the District, preparing to lead his Oklahoma City Thunder against the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night. The teams couldn’t be more different.

The Thunder (12-2) have the league’s best record, while the Wizards (1-12) have the league’s worst. But the Wizards shouldn’t expect Durant and the Thunder to go easy on them.

“We’re greedy. We want to win every game,” said Durant, who’s fourth in the league in scoring with 26 points a game. “Those guys are better than what their record shows. They’re an athletic team that can score a lot of points.

“It’s going to be tough on our defense, but we want to come out and win every game. It’s not going to be easy here. We’re looking forward to a tough game, and hopefully we come out with a win.”

The Wizards have their exciting young star in John Wall. But while Wall tries to lead an undisciplined group of players seemingly determined to stick to one-on-one basketball, Oklahoma City is cited as the model franchise that every team wants to copy — young, mature and disciplined.

But it wasn’t always easy for Durant, and success hardly came overnight. He knows what it’s like to be on a losing team and has some advice for Wall, his summertime Goodman League teammate.

“Keep faith. Keep faith, man,” Durant said. “And patience. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

“[Wall] works hard; I know the team works hard. We all go though tough stretches. I’ve been through that for two years in this league, losing 100 games in two years. It’s tough, but it’s something you have to go through. Keep faith and work hard, and things are going to change.”

Wall has struggled to open the season, but he finally broke out of his slump with a career best 38-point performance in a 114-106 loss to the Houston Rockets on Monday. Wall knows that facing the Thunder will be a far tougher task than the Rockets (6-7) presented.

“It’s another tough point guard and one of the top leading scorers in the league,” Wall said of Thunder guard Russell Westbrook and Durant.

“They’re going to come with a lot of energy. We know what they did to us last year, [they] blew us out by 30,” Wall added. “We have to come out here and be ready to play.

“[Durant] is just a scorer that can score many ways. He can score on the post, he can score on the perimeter. It’s going to be tough to stop them, but you just got to make them take tough shots and don’t let anybody beat you other than him.”

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