NBA Preview from The Sports Network|
Monday, April 14th
(All times Eastern)
Oklahoma City Thunder (58-22) at New Orleans Pelicans (32-48), 8 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Oklahoma City Thunder can wrap up the second seed
in the Western Conference with just one more victory and will try to do so
Monday night when they visit the Smoothie King Center to face the New Orleans
Oklahoma City is two games in front of the Los Angeles Clippers, who hold the
tiebreaker advantage, for that second seed and should feel good about its
chances on Monday night. The Pelicans have lost eight straight and All-Star
Anthony Davis has been shelved for the season.
Also, the Thunder have won 10 in a row versus New Orleans, including four
straight in the Big Easy.
On Sunday afternoon, OKC dropped a tough matchup against the Eastern
Conference's best team, the Indiana Pacers. The Thunder fell 102-97 in
Indianapolis, but did erase an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter before
Indiana pulled away late.
"One of the great things about this team that I coach is that they're going to
keep fighting, they're going to keep competing and they're never going to
quit," OKC head coach Scott Brooks said. "When we were down by (11) points, it
didn't look good, but our group knows that we're going to keep battling and
make it a game."
The Thunder tied the game with just under three minutes to play. Indiana's
Paul George and Lance Stephenson both made 3-pointers and David West hit a
jumper. Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka made 3-pointers themselves and the
deficit was two with 9.5 seconds remaining, but the Pacers made free throws to
seal the victory.
Kevin Durant scored 38 for the Thunder, but he was just 2-of-11 from beyond
the arc. Russell Westbrook added 21 points, nine boards and seven assists for
Oklahoma City, which had a three-game winning streak broken.
The Pelicans haven't won since a home contest against the Utah Jazz on March
On Saturday, New Orleans held a 13-point lead in Houston over the Rockets, but
The Pelicans played without several key contributors besides Davis. Eric
Gordon, Tyreke Evans and Brian Roberts all missed the game and that's on top
of All-Star guard Jrue Holiday and center Jason Smith, who have both been out
Luke Babbitt posted a career-high 24 points, while Austin Rivers and Anthony
Morrow added 20 points apiece in the setback, New Orleans' sixth straight road
"Down the stretch they made play after play," said Pelicans coach Monty
Williams. "It was a tough, tough physical game."
The Pelicans close the season at home against the Thunder, then get back at it
with the Rockets Wednesday night in New Orleans.
The last time the Pelicans beat the Thunder came in the Big Easy on Jan. 24,
04/14 10:29:47 ET