Nets-Thunder Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 01, 2013
The Oklahoma City Thunder continue to roll behind the NBA's highest-scoring offense and a home-court advantage that has them on a 12-game winning streak at the Chesapeake Energy Arena. That may spell more trouble for the Brooklyn Nets, who have lost four in a row on the road, seven straight in the series and are coming off a blowout at the hands of another Western Conference powerhouse. The Thunder go for a season sweep of the Nets on Wednesday night after Brooklyn suffered its first loss under interim coach P.J. Carlesimo in ugly fashion. Oklahoma City (24-6) won its third straight since its only back-to-back losses this season, 114-96 over Phoenix on Monday. Russell Westbrook overcame a nasty cut over his right eye to finish with 24 points, nine assists and seven rebounds, while Kevin Durant scored 30 to help extend the longest current home win streak in the league. The Thunder have averaged 110.9 points and outscored opponents by 13.6 over that stretch. "I thought that was a good team win," coach Scott Brooks told the team's official website after his club had 23 assists and a season-low five turnovers. "A lot of guys did a lot of good things offensively. We were able to score the ball and take care of the basketball." Oklahoma City has topped 20 assists in three straight contests, pushing its scoring average to 105.9 by averaging 116.3 during that win streak. ''It was just energy,'' said Durant, who's scored at least 30 points in nine of his past 12 contests. ''We just upped our energy level. We were moving the basketball so well. Everybody was touching it. We got good shots.'' That certainly was the case in the teams' first meeting of the season Dec. 4, when the Thunder shot 60.6 percent from the field and got 32 points from Durant and 25 and nine assists from Westbrook. Oklahoma City, though, had to hang on for a 117-111 victory after nearly blowing a 16-point lead. Despite the encouraging performance, the Nets dropped their seventh in a row to the Thunder. The Brooklyn franchise has also lost all three games at Oklahoma City since the former Seattle SuperSonics relocated for the 2008-09 season. The Nets (16-15) earned victories in their first two games since the dismissal of coach Avery Johnson, but they tied their lowest point total of the season in a 104-73 loss at San Antonio on Monday. Brooklyn had 18 turnovers and 14 assists while making 37.8 percent from the field - including an abysmal 2-for-20 effort in the third quarter. The Nets scored five points in the period - a Spurs franchise record for that quarter. I'm actually surprised it wasn't worse,'' Carlesimo said. Star point guard Deron Williams had a season-best 33 points in the first meeting of the season with Oklahoma City, but he scored a season low-tying eight and had one assist while shooting 3 for 11 on Monday. Williams' 39.9 field-goal percentage and 30.0 percent mark from 3-point range are the lowest of his career, and his 7.5 assists per game are his worst as a full-time starter. "It was bad all the way around - offensively and defensively,'' Williams said. ''We just couldn't put the ball in the basket. We couldn't get stops. We turned the ball over in the quarter.'' Brooklyn's last three road defeats have come by an average of 20.0 points.
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