The Oklahoma City Thunder didn’t win their ninth game last season until late January.
They’ll get a chance to accomplish that feat Friday night.
Oklahoma City looks to build on one of its most impressive victories of the season as it hosts a Milwaukee Bucks team trying to avoid its first three-game slide.
In their first season in Oklahoma City after being relocated from Seattle, the Thunder opened 3-29 and didn’t win their ninth game in 2008-09 until beating Golden State 122-121 on Jan. 21.
Oklahoma City (8-7) will look to reach that win total Friday at the Ford Center, where it opens a five-game homestand following Tuesday’s 104-94 victory over Utah in which Kevin Durant(notes) scored 28 and was one shy of a career high with eight assists.
“We passed the ball and made shots and we executed our offense all the way through,” said Durant, averaging 27.1 points. “Instead of two passes, then a shot or one pass and a shot, we got maybe four passes and shot.”
Oklahoma City had 25 assists on 37 field goals.
“Monday’s practice out in Utah was one of the best of the season and then I thought today’s was right up there, too,” coach Scott Brooks told the Thunder’s official Web site Wednesday. “The guys came in with good energy and focus. We just have to keep doing that. This will be a great opportunity for us on Friday night.”
Oklahoma City will look to continue its strong play versus the Bucks, who close their four-game trip following back-to-back losses.
Milwaukee (8-5) is trying to rebound from Wednesday’s 102-99 overtime loss to New Orleans, a game the Bucks led by five with less than a minute remaining in regulation.
Point guard Brandon Jennings(notes), who leads all rookies with 23.4 points and 5.8 assists per game, hit two free throws with 12 seconds left in the fourth quarter to give the Bucks a three-point lead, but Hornets rookie guard Darren Collison(notes) made a tying 3-pointer with 7.5 remaining.
After Jennings had the ball tipped away by Collison as time expired in the fourth, he lost the ball to Collison with 45 seconds left in overtime with Milwaukee looking to break a 97-all tie.
“That changed the whole game,” said Jennings, averaging 13.0 points on 27.8 percent shooting during the two-game slide. “We had the ball and we had a chance to go up, but they went up.”
Jennings will be matched up with another former UCLA point guard Friday in Russell Westbrook(notes). The second-year guard is averaging 18.1 points, 6.4 assists and 4.4 rebounds in his last seven games. In Milwaukee’s last visit to Oklahoma City, Westbrook had 13 points and four assists off the bench in a 98-87 loss Oct. 29, 2008.
Michael Redd(notes), who hit three 3s and scored 20 in that matchup for Milwaukee, missed a potential tying 3 at the end of Wednesday’s game. He shot 4 of 16 from the field and scored 11 off the bench in his second game since missing nine with a strained tendon in his left knee.
The Bucks have won three straight over the Thunder franchise, holding Durant to 15.5 points in a pair of victories last season.