New Orleans (32-18) at Oklahoma City (30-17)

By MATT BECKER, STATS Senior Writer Wednesday, Feb 2, 2011 Tipoff: 8:00 pm EST Wed Feb 2, 2011

The usually soft-spoken Kevin Durant(notes) made headlines for calling out a star player following the Thunder’s tough loss over the weekend.

He’d probably like to move on and focus on avenging last week’s final-second loss to New Orleans when the Hornets visit snowy Oklahoma City on Wednesday night in a potential playoff preview.

In a highly anticipated matchup with Miami on Sunday, Durant gave the Thunder (30-17) a one-point lead when he hit a jumper with 34.3 seconds left. The Heat answered with Eddie House’s(notes) go-ahead 3-pointer 12 seconds later, and then added three free throws to hand Oklahoma City a 108-103 loss, snapping its six-game home winning streak.

“We don’t take moral victories here,” said Durant, who missed a jumper with 15 seconds left that would’ve tied the score. “Moral victories have been out the door for two years now.”

Durant finished with 33 points, while Jeff Green(notes) scored 23 and Russell Westbrook(notes) added 21 and 10 assists, as Oklahoma City’s top three scorers all reached 20 points for just the third time this season.

“I don’t look at it as the ‘Big Three.’ (The Heat) may look at it like that over there, but over here we’re a whole group,’ Durant said.

Durant drew a rare technical foul in the first quarter for jawing with Miami’s Chris Bosh(notes), and he wasn’t done talking after the game.

He called Bosh a “fake tough guy,” and said, “He’s on a good team now, so he thinks he can talk a little bit.”

The Thunder, 13-3 following losses this season, are also a good team. They’re in first place in the Northwest Division, and fourth in the Western Conference, with New Orleans (32-18) sitting in fifth.

Oklahoma City hasn’t been at its best lately, however, having dropped four of its last seven.

One of those defeats came in New Orleans last Monday.

The Hornets, who trailed by 15 in the first half, defeated the Thunder 91-89 on David West’s(notes) 19-foot fadeaway with 0.5 seconds left. West finished with 20 points and four-time All-Star Chris Paul(notes) had 24 points, nine assists and three steals for New Orleans, which had lost the first two in the season series.

Durant finished with 22 points but missed all five of his shots in the fourth quarter. The two-time All-Star is averaging 24.3 points - 4.6 fewer than his league-leading average - on 36.7 percent shooting in three games against the Hornets this season.

Durant isn’t the only player who has been frustrated by New Orleans’ defense.

The Hornets, who defeated Washington 97-89 on Tuesday, are second in the league in scoring defense at 91.6 points, and 25-1 when holding opponents to fewer than 94 points.

Against the Wizards, who dropped to 0-25 on the road, New Orleans reserve Jason Smith(notes) finished with a career-high 20 points in a rare start at center for the injured Emeka Okafor(notes) (left oblique strain). Okafor is expected to be out for at least one week.

“I just went out there and tried to play aggressive like he would,” Smith said. “We really need him back healthy, but in the meantime we have a lot of guys that are willing to step up.”

Traveling for this game could be tricky for the Hornets, winners of 11 of 13, as Oklahoma City is covered with snow from a massive blizzard that has blanketed most of the Midwest. The winter storm brought the status of this game into question, but it is currently still set for its scheduled time.

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Wednesday, Feb 2