Thunder-Hornets Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 01, 2012
Kevin Durant has simply been sizzling during the Oklahoma City Thunder's five-game win streak over the New Orleans Hornets. Durant's best career shooting percentage versus a Western Conference club is against the Hornets, the team he'll face as he tries to help the visiting Thunder post a fifth straight victory Saturday night. The superstar is averaging 31.0 points on 66.3 percent shooting during this five-game run over New Orleans (4-10). He's a 52.3 percent career shooter against the Hornets. Durant and reserve Kevin Martin each scored 27 in the Thunder's 110-95 win at New Orleans on Nov. 16. The final score was hardly indicative of how much Oklahoma City (13-4) dominated as it never trailed, led by 29 at halftime and by as many as 34. The Hornets had rookie Anthony Davis in that contest, but the top overall pick will miss his seventh straight game Saturday with a left ankle injury. Davis' absence probably won't help New Orleans slow down an Oklahoma City team averaging a league-best 105.4 points. The Hornets are last in the NBA with 5.7 steals per game. New Orleans may have extra incentive to provide a better showing based on an incident near the end of the first half from the first meeting. Russell Westbrook and Greivis Vasquez were assessed double technical fouls and Durant and Kendrick Perkins walked toward midcourt to have words with Hornets players. Oklahoma City capped a 3-0 homestand Friday with a 106-94 win over Utah. Durant scored 25 and Westbrook had 23 points, 13 rebounds, eight assists, seven steals and eight turnovers as the Thunder led by as many as 18 points after winning the first two games of the stretch by an average of 33.5 points. "Definitely a good homestand leading to the road,'' said Westbrook, who has appeared in 329 straight games for the NBA's longest current streak. "We're playing good basketball right now. Everybody's moving the ball, feeling good and hopefully we can continue it.'' Westbrook was one shy of his career high in steals and two off his best rebounding total. "He makes big plays. It's not always just making a pass or scoring,'' Durant said. "He makes big plays that change the game." Durant logged 40 minutes and Westbrook 39. That may not slow them down since the Thunder are 4-0 when playing the second half of games on consecutive nights. The Hornets' loss to Oklahoma City last month started their current three-game home skid. They have fallen by an average of 16.4 points in those contests after Wednesday's 96-84 defeat to the Jazz. New Orleans trailed by two at the break before getting outscored 31-17 in the third quarter. "We looked like a young team,'' coach Monty Williams said. "Some of our young guys were making mistakes where they knew it when they made it and when the coaches talked to them. That is part of this process.'' Vasquez and Robin Lopez each scored 18 points. Vasquez has averaged 18.5 points over his last four games, but he's been far better on the road (17.9 ppg, 48.0 percent shooting) than at home (9.6, 35.1).
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