Kevin Durant and Monta Ellis are among the premier scorers in
the NBA, but only one has been able to help his team into first
A key stretch could have the Oklahoma City Thunder widening
Durant and the Thunder wrap up a two-game swing against Ellis
and the Golden State Warriors on Sunday night.
Durant leads the league with 29.1 points per game while Ellis is
sixth at 25.1. The Thunder (34-18) have been able to capitalize on
Durant’s superb play to lead the Northwest Division by four games
The Warriors (23-29) haven’t been as successful, sitting third
in the Pacific and 5 1/2 games behind Portland for the eighth and
final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Durant has thrived against Golden State, averaging 33.7 points
over the last 10 meetings, resulting in seven wins. The forward
scored 28 points in Oklahoma City’s 114-109 home win over the
Warriors on Dec. 5 in the first of three meetings this season.
Durant will try to lead the Thunder to their fifth win six
games. He scored 35 points in a 99-97 victory over Sacramento on
“This was a good road win,” coach Scott Brooks said. “We knew we
were in for a tough game.”
The win also started a stretch of four consecutive games against
teams under .500. Following this contest, Oklahoma City returns
home to face the Kings on Tuesday and will meet the Los Angeles
Clippers on Feb. 22 after the All-Star break.
First, Durant and the Thunder will try to continue capitalizing
against the Warriors, who are second in the league in points
allowed per game at 106.1.
Oklahoma City is fifth in the NBA in scoring with 104.5 points
per game, but is averaging 112.3 during a four-game road winning
The Warriors have won four of five at home to improve to 17-11.
They’re also likely to be happy to be playing again at Oracle Arena
following one of their worst performances this season, a 112-88
rout in Phoenix on Thursday.
One night earlier, Golden State shot 51.1 percent in a 116-114
home win over Denver.
“You share with the younger players how hard it is that you have
to play every night in the NBA, back-to-back in particular,” coach
Keith Smart said, “but there’s nothing you can do with it.”
Ellis was just 4 of 13 shots from the floor to finish with eight
points against the Suns. He had been averaging 28.8 over the
previous four games.
Ellis outscored Durant on Dec. 5, finishing with 29 points.
However, Stephen Curry tops them both with a season-high 39 points,
three shy of his career-best.
Ellis’ backcourt mate is averaging 24.0 points on 58.1 percent
from the field while making 6 of 13 3-pointers in two home meetings
with Oklahoma City.
Curry, though, hasn’t come close to that type of production over
the last three games, averaging 13.3 points after getting 12
against the Suns. He’s second on the team with 18.8 points per game
and leads with 5.8 assists.