Oklahoma City will have to wait a couple more weeks before the recently acquired Kendrick Perkins(notes) takes the floor. In the meantime, the Thunder may want to focus on the immediate task of ending their first three-game losing streak of the season.
Oklahoma City looks for its first season-series sweep against Indiana in four years when the Thunder host the Pacers on Wednesday night.
Not since the then-Seattle SuperSonics won both meetings against Indiana during the 2006-07 season has the franchise won a series between the teams. To accomplish the feat, the Thunder (36-22) also will have to avoid their first four-game skid since April 3-8, 2009.
Oklahoma City dropped three consecutive games to a trio of the NBA’s best teams, capped by Sunday’s 90-87 loss against the Los Angeles Lakers. The defeat followed losses to San Antonio last Wednesday and Orlando on Friday.
The Thunder were held to fewer than 90 points in two straight games for the first time since Nov. 19-20, and scored a season-low 31 second-half points.
“These last couple games, it’s felt like nothing has gone our way, but we’ve got to keep pushing, keep fighting and stay positive,” Durant said.
Good news came Tuesday when Oklahoma City agreed to a four-year, $36 million extension with Perkins, who was acquired along with Nate Robinson(notes) from Boston on Thursday for Jeff Green(notes), Nenad Krstic(notes) and a future first-round pick. Perkins is still recovering from a sprained left knee and won’t be available immediately.
The stretch against tough competition should help prepare the Thunder for Indiana, which it beat 110-106 in overtime Nov. 26. Westbrook scored a career-high 43 points in helping lead Oklahoma City back from a 14-point deficit.
Danny Granger(notes) scored 30 in that loss and netted 27 points - hitting 16 of 16 free throws - on Tuesday in the Pacers’ 109-100 win against Golden State. The victory snapped a two-game skid for Indiana (27-32) as it moved a game ahead of ninth-place Charlotte for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Indiana had lost four of its previous six games, including an 11-point defeat at home to struggling Utah on Friday followed by Sunday’s 110-108 overtime loss to Phoenix when the Suns’ Channing Frye(notes) hit a shot at the buzzer.
Indiana has averaged 105.9 points while going 10-5 since Jan. 31 under interim coach Frank Vogel—a stark contrast to a 17-27 mark and 97.8 points-per game average under former coach Jim O’Brien.
“That’s a win that falls in line with the identity we want for this team,” Vogel said. “Our tempo was great and carried us in the fourth quarter.”
The Thunder won last season’s meeting in Oklahoma City, 108-102 on Jan. 9, 2010. Durant scored 40 points and Granger had 25.