Kevin Durant’s shooting touch has been a bit off lately. A game
against the Golden State Warriors could be what he needs to regain
his scoring prowess.
Durant, who has routinely frustrated the Warriors, looks to lead
the playoff-bound Oklahoma City Thunder to a fifth straight home
win over Golden State on Tuesday night.
Oklahoma City (48-24) clinched its second straight playoff berth
Sunday with a 99-90 victory over Portland. It was the ninth win in
10 games for the Northwest Division-leading Thunder, who own a 4
1/2-game lead over second-place Denver with 10 to play.
“A couple of years ago we were the worst team ever,” Durant told
the Thunder’s official website. “Two years later we have clinched
consecutive playoff appearances, so it feels good. We just have to
Russell Westbrook led the way Sunday with 28 points and hit
three 3-pointers in the final 5 1/2 minutes, including the clincher
with 21 seconds remaining. Oklahoma City is 16-3 when Westbrook
scores at least 28.
“Russell has a tremendous amount of pride and confidence in his
game and he’s improving everyday with us,” coach Scott Brooks said.
“He made the big shots.”
While Westbrook had a strong shooting performance, Durant had
another tough time finding his rhythm.
He missed 13 of 18 shots to finish with 21 points, six in the
second half. In his last four games, the two-time All-Star is
shooting 36.2 percent and averaging 23.3 points – 4.4 fewer than
his league-leading average.
Durant has had no such trouble scoring against Golden State
In 13 career games against the Warriors, Durant is averaging
30.2 points for his most versus any Western Conference
Oklahoma City beat Golden State 114-109 at home Dec. 5 and lost
100-94 at Oracle Arena on Feb. 13. The Thunder, 7-1 in Oklahoma
City this month, have won all four home games against the Warriors
since moving from Seattle prior to the 2008-09 season.
The Oklahoma City Arena isn’t the only venue giving Golden State
The Warriors have lost a season-worst six straight road games,
getting outscored by an average of 16.6 points in the last
They are coming off Sunday’s 114-104 win over Washington, their
second straight following a six-game skid. Golden State hasn’t won
three in a row since Feb. 13-16.
Although they were officially eliminated from playoff contention
earlier Sunday, Monta Ellis is still determined to help lead the
Warriors to a strong finish. He played all 48 minutes against the
Wizards and finished with 37 points, a career high-tying 13 assists
and seven rebounds.
“This is our job. We’re pros. Our season is not over with yet,”
said Ellis, who has averaged 32.0 points in his last two games
after averaging 15.4 in his previous seven. “We still have eight
more games, just go out there and see how many we could win.”
The Warriors already have won six more games than they did last
Ellis is averaging 31.0 points in the two games against the
Thunder this season and has topped the 25-point mark in five of the
last six meetings.
Golden State’s Stephen Curry had a season-high 39 points on
14-of-21 shooting in December’s matchup.