NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, January 31st (All times Eastern)
Oklahoma City Thunder (37-10) at Brooklyn Nets (20-23), 8 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - Kevin Durant has taken his game to a whole other level at the moment and will lead the Oklahoma City Thunder into Friday's matchup with the much-improved Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center.
Durant leads the NBA in scoring with 31.3 points per game and has scored at least 30 points in a career-high 12 straight games, averaging 38.0 ppg over that ridiculous stretch. He has four games this month with at least 45 points and his 30-point streak is the longest of its kind since Tracy McGrady did it in 14 consecutive contests in March and April of 2003.
Since pouring in 48 points at Minnesota on Jan. 4, Durant is posting an average of 37.5 ppg. Another 45-point effort for Durant would match Kobe Bryant's mark of five set in 2005-06 and 2006-07.
The Thunder have won a season high-tying nine in a row and disposed of LeBron James and the two-time defending NBA champion Miami Heat with Wednesday's 112-95 victory in the opener of a three-game road trip. Durant made 12-of-23 shots for 33 points to go along with seven rebounds and five assists for the Thunder, who made 51.3 percent from the field and 16-of-27 3-pointers.
Derek Fisher made all five of his 3-pointers and Durant ended 4-of-9 from downtown for the Thunder, who trailed 22-4 in the first quarter and used a 12-0 run to get back into the game. The Thunder outscored the Heat by 25 points in the second and third quarters combined to improve to 8-0 on the road against the Eastern Conference.
"They were ready for us to come in and play," Durant said of the Heat. "They hit some tough shots early on, a few 3s, and we didn't panic. We just tried to stay together and that's what we did."
Serge Ibaka tallied 22 points and eight rebounds, while Jeremy Lamb scored 18 points and was 4-of-6 from deep for Oklahoma City. The Thunder, winners of five straight as the guest, are 17-7 as the visitor and will close the trip Saturday in Washington.
Meanwhile, the Nets had won seven in a row at home until Monday's tough 104-103 loss to the Toronto Raptors. Patrick Patterson stole a Deron Williams pass and buried a go-ahead jumper with six seconds left to lead the Raptors to victory.
"It's not my first time turning the ball over to lose a game, probably won't be my last," Williams said of his inbounds pass.
Paul Pierce pumped in a season-best 33 points on 10-of-16 shooting and Andray Blatche ended with 20 off the bench. Pierce also made 7-of-10 3-pointers and Joe Johnson was the only other Net in double figures with 12 points for Brooklyn, which shot well (48.1 percent) in defeat and entered the game having won five in a row and 10 of 11 games.
Johnson was named as a reserve for the Eastern Conference All-Star team on Thursday.
The Nets, who own a 10-2 record in the new year, are 12-10 at home and have won three in a row overall against teams from the Western Conference. The streak against the West includes a 95-93 victory in Oklahoma City on Jan. 2, when Williams and Pierce scored 29 and 18 points, respectively.
Durant had 24 points in that loss to the Nets, who have won two in a row in this series since losing seven straight. OKC has won four in a row on the road against the Nets.
01/31 11:50:24 ET