The Oklahoma City Thunder are likely looking forward to facing some easier opponents, starting with a home game against one that owns the second-worst road record in the NBA.
Oklahoma City (14-14) salvaged the finale of a three-game road trip with a 117-113 win at Phoenix on Wednesday as Durant scored 38 points. The Thunder lost the previous two games by a combined nine points.
“It was a huge win for us on the road after two tough games against Houston and the Lakers,” Durant said. “It was a good way to bounce back.”
The 21-year-old Durant, scoring 27.7 points per game, could join four other players 21 or younger at the end of a season to average 25 or more. The others were LeBron James(notes), Tracy McGrady(notes), Carmelo Anthony(notes) and Rick Barry.
After facing three of the top teams in the Western Conference, the Thunder have their next three against lowly East teams - Charlotte (11-16), New Jersey and Washington.
The Thunder dropped five of six overall before beating the Suns, also falling to contenders Cleveland, Dallas and Denver. Oklahoma City ended the grueling stretch by handing the Suns their second home loss as Russell Westbrook(notes) scored 19 points and Jeff Green(notes) added 17.
“It was obviously a great win for us,” coach Scott Brooks said. “We had a lot of guys that stepped up and made a lot of winning basketball plays.”
Charlotte is 1-12 on the road, although the last three of those defeats were by a total of eight points. The Bobcats, eliminated from playoff contention in the final week of last season with an 84-81 loss at Oklahoma City on April 10, know they must improve on the road to gain their first postseason berth.
“You play this game for your coach, your organization and your fans,” Bobcats swingman Stephen Jackson(notes) said. “Everybody wants to get to that next level. This team has never been to the playoffs.”
“I don’t know when I did it, I felt it coming on and coming on,” Chandler said. “I tried to work on it at halftime and then through the third quarter it seemed like it got worse.”
The Bobcats are one of the lowest-scoring teams in the NBA with 91.2 points per game, but welcomed back Gerald Wallace(notes) against the Pistons. Wallace missed Sunday’s loss at New York after getting elbowed in the face a night earlier.
Wallace had 29 points and 12 rebounds for his third straight double-double Tuesday. He’s averaging 29.3 points and 12.3 boards in that span, and he has 17 double-doubles - three shy of his career high from last season.
The Thunder’s win in April ended a three-game skid against the Bobcats.