With each team seeking its second win in as many nights, Durant and the Thunder visit Williams and the Jazz on Saturday night.
Fatigue is unlikely to be a major issue for these clubs. Oklahoma City is 5-3 when playing the second of games on back-to-back nights, while Utah is 8-5.
The Thunder (32-17) have won four of five, thanks in large part to an incredible stretch by Durant. The NBA’s scoring leader has had 40 points or more in three of those victories, including a career high-tying 47 in a Jan. 26 win at Minnesota.
Durant appeared quite human Friday at Phoenix, notching his third straight double-double but finishing with 24 points - more than five below his season average of 29.1. The Thunder didn’t need him to be any better, though, beating the Suns 111-107 to improve to a season-high 15 games above .500.
“It wasn’t just a one-man, two-man game (Friday),” Durant said. “It was everybody.”
That included Jeff Green(notes), who finished with a team-high 28 points, and Serge Ibaka(notes), who added 18 on 9-of-10 shooting. Ibaka scored six points in the final three minutes as the Thunder turned a three-point deficit into a four-point victory.
“Serge is a big part of what we do and our success,” Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said. “He works and continues to get better. His energy and focus tonight was as well as he could possibly play. He made nearly every shot and they were all big shots down the stretch.”
The Jazz (30-21) had dropped eight of 10 entering Friday’s game at Denver, including a 2-2 mark during Williams’ four-game absence due to a strained tendon in his right wrist.
“The wrist is sore, it’s going to be sore for a while,” Williams said. “Every time I hit it, land on it, get fouled, it hurts. It’s something I have to deal with it. I dealt with it last year for a month and a half.”
The All-Star point guard returned to face the Nuggets, and had 26 points and 12 assists to help Utah win 113-106, overtaking Denver for second place in the Northwest Division - three games behind the Thunder.
Williams and Durant have had a couple of memorable matchups within the past year. Williams had 31 points and 11 assists Nov. 15 at home, but Durant scored 30 and made all 16 of his free-throw attempts to lead Oklahoma City to a 115-108 victory.
Durant had one of the best individual games of his career at Utah on April 6, scoring 45 points - including a career-high seven 3-pointers. However, the Thunder lost 140-139 in overtime as Williams finished with 42 for the Jazz.
These teams have split their two previous meetings this season, with each winning on the other’s home court.