Hornets-Thunder Preview

BY foxsports • January 20, 2016

Kemba Walker has accomplished some rather remarkable feats of late, as has Russell Westbrook.

The premier point guards now go head-to-head as Walker's Hornets visit the formidable Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night looking to build on their star's record-setting performance.

Though Charlotte (19-22) brings a nine-game road losing streak into Chesapeake Energy Arena, where it hasn't won since the Thunder moved from Seattle, it'll at least be entering on a rare recent high after outlasting Utah 124-119 in a double-overtime thriller Monday.

Walker scored a franchise-record 52 points, and the fifth-year pro finished 6 of 11 from 3-point range and 14 of 15 from the foul line in surpassing Glen Rice's 48 points against Boston on March 6, 1997.

''I just tried to make the best plays possible," he said. "When I had my shot, I tried to be aggressive, take them and make them."

Walker has made more than his share of plays during a 12-game stretch in which he's had to carry an offense without two of its top five scorers in Al Jefferson and Jeremy Lamb. He's averaging 24.8 points and produced three games of 32 or more over that span.

Monday's victory was just the second in the last 11 games, and the Hornets are 4-14 since last winning on the road at Memphis on Dec. 11, falling to last place in the Southeast Division.

The Thunder (31-12) have gone in the other direction, winning 20 of 24 since consecutive road defeats to Atlanta and Miami from Nov. 30-Dec. 3 that left them just three games above .500.

Westbrook has been a major reason for the surge and aims for a third consecutive triple-double at home. He fell short of a third straight overall in Tuesday's 110-104 victory in Denver, but still logged 19 of his 27 points in the second half and contributed 12 assists in Oklahoma City's fifth consecutive win.

Kevin Durant added 30 points and 12 rebounds and Enes Kanter had 25 points in 25 minutes off the bench to help the Thunder overcome an off-shooting night. Oklahoma City went 6 of 28 on 3-pointers and shot 42.3 percent overall, its lowest mark since a 105-96 home loss to Chicago on Christmas Day.

The Thunder have averaged 111.2 points in winning 11 of 13 since.

''We got great shots tonight,'' Durant said afterward. ''Cameron (Payne) missed four wide-open 3s, Dion (Waiters) missed two or three, I missed a couple, so we got great looks tonight. We can live with those.''

Charlotte has scored 107 or more in three of its last four after averaging 93.7 over six consecutive losses to begin January. That includes a 109-90 home setback to the Thunder on Jan. 2 in which Westbrook was held to 16 points on 4 of 15 shooting, but Durant had 29 and 11 rebounds to counter Walker's 32 points.

The win was the Thunder's 10th straight over the Hornets, and they haven't lost in seven meetings since relocating to Oklahoma City for the 2009-10 season. Charlotte last defeated the Thunder in March 2010 and recorded its most recent road win in the series in Seattle on March 28, 2008.

The Hornets have dropped their last five games in Oklahoma City by an average of 25.8 points, with each loss by at least 17 points.

Lamb has missed three games with a sprained right toe and is questionable to play in his Oklahoma City return. The shooting guard spent his first three seasons with the Thunder before being traded to Charlotte in June.

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