Warriors-Thunder Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated February 06, 2013
The Oklahoma City Thunder haven't lost more than two in a row this season, but they also haven't won two straight in nearly three weeks. The Northwest Division-leading Thunder will try to change that Wednesday night when they go for an eighth consecutive victory with the Golden State Warriors in town. After posting 10 wins during a stretch of 12 of 15 on the road, Oklahoma City (36-12) kicked off a three-game homestand on Monday with a 112-91 victory over Dallas. It was the Thunder's fifth straight home win and helped them improve to 21-3 at Chesapeake Energy Arena. "We responded well (to Saturday's 115-110 loss at Cleveland),'' said Kevin Durant, who finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds. "The toughest test is to see how we do the next game." Oklahoma City has won 14 straight against visiting Western Conference opponents beginning with a 119-109 victory over Golden State (30-18) on Nov. 18, but it hasn't posted back-to-back victories since a six-game surge from Jan. 9-18. If the Warriors are going to prevent that from happening, they'll have to improve from Tuesday when they gave up a league record-tying 23 3-pointers in a 140-109 loss at Houston. It also tied for the most points allowed by any NBA team this season. "Some nights, it's not your night and it wasn't ours and we didn't play particularly well,'' said coach Mark Jackson, whose team had given up 96.8 points per game and 23 total 3s while winning its previous four. As poorly as they played to begin their four-game trip, the Warriors can't afford to dwell on that performance as they'll meet a Thunder team averaging 108.0 points and shooting a league-best 43.6 percent from beyond the arc at home. Oklahoma City hit 13 of 20 3s on Nov. 18 when Durant posted his first career triple-double with 25 points, 13 rebounds and a career-high 10 assists. Russell Westbrook added 30 points and Kevin Martin hit five 3s and scored 23. The Thunder haven't lost at home in this series since the Warriors' first trip to Oklahoma City on Dec. 8, 2008. Durant, the league's leading scorer with 29.4 points per game, has been a particularly difficult matchup for the Warriors. The three-time reigning scoring champ had 33 points in a 104-99 loss at Oakland on Jan. 23 that ended Oklahoma City's five-game winning streak in this series. Durant's scoring average (30.7) versus Golden State is his highest against any team he's faced more than nine times. Westbrook is averaging 20.0 points in the two matchups this season, while Martin has totaled 39 points in those contests on 7-of-10 shooting from long range. Warriors point guard Stephen Curry has the same number of 3s in those games, but it took him 12 more attempts. Curry leads Golden State with 53 points versus Oklahoma City this season, followed by David Lee (41), who also has a team-best 22 boards. The Thunder might have to wait to get their first look at center Andrew Bogut in a Warriors jersey. The Australian had 10 points and nine boards on Tuesday in his fourth game since missing 38 with an ankle injury, but he's not expected to play in back-to-back games until after the All-Star break.
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