Thunder-Kings Preview

Kevin Durant has scored 33 points in each of Oklahoma City’s

last two games in helping the Thunder rally for a pair of

victories.

The three-time All-Star could be poised for another big

outing.

Durant looks to lead the Western Conference-best Thunder to a

seventh straight win over the Kings on Thursday night at Power

Balance Pavilion, one of the two-time scoring champion’s favorite

arenas.

After scoring 13 of his points in the fourth quarter and

overtime in Monday’s 111-107 victory over Portland, Durant scored

12 in the final period of Tuesday’s 119-116 win over Golden State.

He made the go-ahead bank shot with 14.2 seconds remaining against

the Warriors after putting the finishing touches on Monday’s

victory with a dunk with 2.9 seconds left.

“It’s fun,” said Durant, who has reached the 30-point mark five

times in the last seven contests after having one 30-point game in

his previous 14. “This is what you dream about as a kid. Guys want

to take those shots and play in those minutes.”

The Thunder (20-5) haven’t needed any late-game heroics from

Durant against the Kings.

Oklahoma City has won six straight in the series since a 101-98

loss Nov. 10, 2009, with the four meetings last season being

decided by an average of 13.8 points. Not surprisingly, Durant –

third in the league with 27.3 points per game – has played a big

role in the Thunder’s success, especially in Sacramento.

In five games at Power Balance Pavilion since 2008-09, Durant is

averaging 32.8 points, his best at any arena.

Durant, however, isn’t the only player the Kings need to worry

about on the Thunder, one of the league’s highest-scoring teams at

101.2 points per game.

Russell Westbrook is averaging 27.1 points in his last seven

games, while James Harden is averaging 20.3 on 52.1 percent

shooting in his last four. Westbrook had 31 points and seven

assists Tuesday to help give the Thunder their fourth win in five

games.

Oklahoma City’s high-powered offense will likely be a big test

for Sacramento, which is playing much better defensively.

The Kings (9-16) are allowing an average of 94.2 points on 42.7

percent shooting in splitting their last six games after allowing

an average of 117.0 points on 52.0 percent shooting in losing their

previous three.

Sacramento did a good job of shutting down a Minnesota team

playing without the suspended Kevin Love on Tuesday, but the

offense struggled in an 86-84 defeat.

Tyreke Evans, who averages 17.2 points, scored 11 on 5-of-13

shooting, while DeMarcus Cousins shot 3 for 13 and finished with 10

points and 11 rebounds after combining for 49 points and 39 boards

in his previous two games.

Rookie Jimmer Fredette, benched for two straight games last

week, helped pick up the slack, scoring all 13 of his points in the

fourth quarter as the Kings nearly erased a nine-point deficit.

Sacramento had a chance to win, but Donte Greene’s 3-pointer from

the corner missed at the buzzer.

“It would have been a perfect, happy ending to our comeback for

that to go in,” Greene said. “But it didn’t fall.”

A game against Oklahoma City, which has allowed at least 107

points in each of its last three games, could help Evans and

Cousins bounce back from Tuesday’s subpar showings.

Evans scored 52 points in his two games against the Thunder last

season, while Cousins averaged 21.0 points in four – his

second-highest average against any team during his rookie

season.