Kevin Durant watched a lot of bad NBA basketball growing up in Washington. Now, he's part of a struggling pro team.
Durant, the Seattle SuperSonics' lone bright spot this season, will play in his hometown of Washington for the first time since entering the NBA when he faces the Wizards on Sunday.
Durant, who leads all rookies with 20.0 points per game, was born in D.C. and grew up in the area before going to college at Texas for a year. He was picked second overall in April's draft, and is the cornerstone of a Seattle team that is in rebuilding mode.
As a kid in Washington, he watched a team that was perennially rebuilding. The Washington franchise made the playoffs in just one of 16 seasons after Durant was born in 1988, but now has a streak of three straight postseason appearances.
"I always used to go watch games all the time, back when they were the Bullets," Durant told the Sonics' official Web site. "So to play in that arena is going to be pretty cool, especially as a young guy like me."
Durant is back in the lineup for Seattle (9-23) after missing a game with an injured left index finger. He led the Sonics with 28 points in a 104-96 loss to Phoenix on Thursday night.
It was Seattle's third straight loss on the road, where it is 4-12 on the season. The Sonics have lost their last four games in Washington, but the Wizards (16-15) have lost three of their last four home games.
Washington, continuing to hang around .500 with star guard Gilbert Arenas still sidelined following mid-November knee surgery, has alternated wins and losses in its last six games.
Antawn Jamison scored 24 points and the Wizards shot 55 percent from the field to beat Milwaukee 101-77 on Friday night, improving to 13-10 without Arenas. Caron Butler contributed 13 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.
With Arenas sidelined, Jamison and Butler have proven themselves capable of carrying the Wizards for long stretches.
Jamison, in his ninth year, is averaging 21.8 points and a career-high 10.8 rebounds. One of only five players in the league averaging at least 20 points and 10 rebounds, Jamison credits his success to his offseason regimen.
"I feel great. My body is holding up. I've been able to log some big minutes. It is good to know that you work hard during the offseason, it gives you the opportunity to play well throughout the entire season," Jamison said. "It is really paying off for me this year. And I feel great right now."
Butler, meanwhile, is having a career season with 21.8 points, 6.9 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 2.2 steals per game. The veteran forward is averaging 28.2 points while shooting 56.0 percent from the field in his last five games against Seattle.
Butler could be matched up with Durant, who helped the Sonics compete with the high-scoring Suns. Seattle held Phoenix to 13 points in the first quarter, which tied the Suns' lowest total for a period this season.
Seattle, though, is concerned about the condition of second-leading scorer Chris Wilcox, who played only six minutes versus the Suns after dislocating a finger. Wilcox, averaging 13.3 points and 7.4 rebounds, is uncertain for Sunday's game.