Instead of hitting the 30-point plateau again, Durant would simply settle for a win over the Hornets.
Durant has never beaten New Orleans, which goes for its first four-game winning streak of the season and a 10th straight victory over the Thunder franchise Wednesday night.
Durant is fourth in the NBA in scoring at 28.4 points per game, and he’s had at least 30 in half of the Thunder’s games - including seven straight heading into Chicago on Monday.
The 2007-08 NBA Rookie of the Year was held to 25 against the Bulls, but Russell Westbrook(notes) made sure Oklahoma City (19-15) left with a win. Westbrook scored 29 to lead the Thunder to a 98-85 victory, their sixth in seven games.
“We’ve been riding on Russell,” Durant said of Westbrook, who’s averaged 17.4 points, 8.9 assists and 7.0 rebounds during the last seven games. “You’re going to have to worry about him when he’s scoring like that. And he can pass so well, he opens up a lot of things for everybody else.”
Oklahoma City improved to 8-9 when Durant doesn’t score 30. His 14 field-goal attempts Monday were his fewest since mid-November.
“I’m not going into every game saying, ‘I’ve got to score 30 for us to win,’” Durant said. “I just go out there and play within the offense. That’s what everybody’s doing.”
Regardless of what Durant’s done versus New Orleans (16-16) in his career, he hasn’t seen his team record a victory. Durant is 0-6 against the Hornets - he scored a career-high 47 in a 100-98 home loss Feb. 17 - and the Thunder have lost nine in a row to New Orleans dating back to their days in Seattle.
While another big game from Durant would be no surprise Wednesday, another 30-point effort from Brown would be. With Chris Paul(notes), Peja Stojakovic(notes) and Emeka Okafor(notes) totaling just 22 points Monday in Utah, Brown scored a career-high 30 to lead a 91-87 win, the Hornets’ third road victory of the season.
“It’s big for us, especially with how terrible we’ve played on the road this year,” said Paul, who referred to Brown as the “MVP of the game.” “Hopefully this gives us the confidence and gives us the ability to realize that we are a good team and that we can win on the road.”
The Hornets improved to 10-1 when Brown tops his 10.9-point average, and with Stojakovic struggling - the former All-Star is averaging 4.8 points since Dec. 26 - Brown’s production could be even more critical. He’s scored in double figures in eight of nine games after doing so eight times in his first 19.
New Orleans is at .500 for the first time since the second game of the season.
“We have to get a nice little win streak and this is an opportunity,” said Brown, who barely played in three of last season’s four meetings with the Thunder. “January has to be our moving month and this is a great way to start off.”
Paul averaged 22.0 points on 60.0 percent shooting, 11.0 assists and 3.8 steals in last season’s four-game sweep of Oklahoma City, while Westbrook averaged 15.0 points on 36.8 percent shooting.
David West(notes), however, made the real difference. The two-time All-Star averaged 25.8 points and 10.2 rebounds, and has seven double-doubles during the Hornets’ winning streak against the Thunder.