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Mon, Apr 15, 2013 - 8:00 PM ET
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With only two games remaining, the Oklahoma City Thunder have a big leg up in the race for the Western Conference's No. 1 seed.

A matchup against the lowly Sacramento Kings should help them finally claim it.

The Thunder can secure the West's top spot with a win over the visiting Kings, who try to avoid a 12th defeat in 13 matchups in the series Monday night.

Oklahoma City (59-21) got some help Sunday from the Los Angeles Lakers, whose 91-86 victory over San Antonio moved the Thunder one game ahead of the Spurs in the West. Oklahoma City, which owns the tiebreaker over San Antonio, can now clinch home-court advantage throughout the playoffs by beating the Kings (28-52).

If their recent efforts in the series are any indication, the Thunder have to like their chances of doing just that. Oklahoma City has taken 11 of 12 from Sacramento, including each of the last five matchups.

Oklahoma City has also outscored the Kings by an average of 13.8 points during an eight-game home winning streak. The Thunder have compiled a 23-2 home record against fellow West opponents.

Oklahoma City returns home after sweeping a three-game road trip. Russell Westbrook scored 17 of his 33 points in the third quarter as the Thunder beat Portland 106-90 Friday for their ninth win in 11 games.

"He was drinking some of that Space Jam juice in here at halftime," Kevin Durant said of Westbrook. "But really, we're just playing the way we need to play right now."

Oklahoma City clinched its third consecutive Northwest Division title earlier in the night when Dallas beat Denver in overtime.

"That wasn't a given," Westbrook said about the division title. "A lot of guys came back better, and we've put in a lot of work to put ourselves in a position to win it again."

The Thunder, who shot 51.9 percent and limited the Trail Blazers to 40.9 percent, improved to 27-2 when making at least half their shots.

"There's a reason they went to the Finals last year and are fighting for the No. 1 seed in the West," Portland rookie Will Barton said. "They're getting ready for the playoffs, so that's what you expect from them."

Oklahoma City now turns its attention to a Kings team that's dropped six of seven. In Sunday's 121-100 loss at Houston, Sacramento allowed the Rockets to shoot 54.2 percent and gave up a season worst-tying 33 fast-break points. The Kings are 0-22 when letting opponents shoot better than 50.0 percent.

Isaiah Thomas and DeMarcus Cousins went a combined 5 for 18 from the field and finished with just 10 and eight points, respectively. Thomas, though, added a season-high 10 assists.

"That wasn't really a fun event there," coach Keith Smart said.

While not much has gone their way this season, the Kings are at least hoping to finish strong. They know they'll have their hands full against the Thunder before concluding their schedule Wednesday against the Clippers.

"One thing this group has done, and I got to give it to this group, is that (when) we take the lump and get hit on the chin, this group all year long has been able to move on," Smart said. "We're going into Oklahoma City, another top-level team, and you must again come out and try to play."

Averaging a team-leading 16.9 points, Cousins has been limited to 12.0 on 32.1 percent shooting in two losses to the Thunder this season.

Oklahoma City's Kevin Martin is averaging 21.0 points against Sacramento - 7.0 better than his season mark and his best against any opponent. The former King sat out Friday with back spasms and his status is uncertain.

Tagged: Kings, Thunder, Russell Westbrook

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