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News » Kings-Thunder Preview

Kings-Thunder Preview

Kings-Thunder Preview
Kevin Durant has turned in several impressive performances this season, but they haven't resulted in many wins for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Perhaps his latest effort can spark some momentum.

After helping his team end a three-game losing streak, Durant looks to guide the Thunder to another victory on Sunday when they face the Sacramento Kings for the second time in eight days.

Durant has scored a team-leading 25.3 points per game in 2008-09, but Oklahoma City (12-38) is last in the Northwest Division and near the bottom of the Western Conference - just ahead of Sacramento (11-40).

The league's reigning Rookie of the Year has been ever better in the last 10 games - a span in which the Thunder have won five times - as he's averaged 31.3 points and 8.6 rebounds while shooting 51.4 percent.

Oklahoma City is 4-8 when Durant scores at least 30 points, and he's eclipsed that mark in three straight games and in four of his last five. He scored 31 on 12-of-25 shooting Friday night as the Thunder snapped a three-game slide with a 102-93 home win over Portland and Greg Oden.

"It was just a regular game for me," said Durant, selected second after Oden in the 2007 draft. "I tried to play with enthusiasm and fire like I always do."

Nick Collison recorded his seventh double-double with 21 points and 13 rebounds, and Jeff Green scored 20 points for Oklahoma City, which held off a late rally.

"We've just got to learn how to close these games out even more and get better," Durant told the Thunder's official Web site. "I'm excited (for) what this team has in store and we're excited about our next game."

That matchup will come against a familiar opponent, as Oklahoma City fell 122-118 in overtime at Sacramento last Sunday despite getting 33 points from Durant and a season-high 34 from rookie Russell Westbrook.

Durant has averaged 24.2 points in five career games against the Kings, who are 9-2 in the last 11 meetings versus the Thunder franchise.

While the Thunder are closing out a three-game homestand, the Kings are starting an equally long stretch on the road, where they've lost six straight and are 3-23.

Sacramento has won five consecutive road matchups against the Oklahoma City organization by an average of 12.8 points, but this meeting will be the teams' first at the Ford Center since the former SuperSonics relocated from Seattle.

The Kings ended a season high-tying eight-game losing streak by defeating the Thunder last week, but have dropped their last two contests, falling 111-107 against visiting Utah on Friday night.

The teams were tied with 48 seconds remaining when Sacramento's Kevin Martin was whistled for a charge. Utah then went ahead with 20.2 seconds left, and the Kings fell to 3-16 since Jan. 2.

"We didn't get some calls to go our way," interim coach Kenny Natt said. "The refs thought they were in position. Obviously, I thought they were different."

Friday's loss overshadowed another strong performance from Martin, who contributed 19 of his 37 points in the fourth quarter. The Kings' leading scorer with a career-high 24.4 points per game, Martin is averaging 27.8 in his last six.

Martin also had 37 points against Oklahoma City last Sunday, and has averaged 26.9 in his previous eight games versus the Thunder franchise.

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: February 7, 2009


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