Oklahoma City (42-23) at Washington (16-48)

By NICOLINO DIBENEDETTO, STATS Writer Sunday, Mar 13, 2011 Tipoff: 7:00 pm EDT Mon Mar 14, 2011

The Oklahoma City Thunder can’t be accused of taking lesser opponents lightly. They’ll try to continue that with a matchup against one of the NBA’s worst teams.

Possibly having Kendrick Perkins(notes) healthy should help.

With Perkins possibly making his team debut, the Thunder look to continue their success against opponents with losing records when they visit the Washington Wizards on Monday night.

Oklahoma City (42-23) leads the Northwest Division by 3 1/2 games over Denver partly due to a 22-4 record against teams under .500. That success includes a 124-117 double-overtime victory against the Wizards (16-48) on Jan. 28, its fourth straight win in the series.

The Thunder continued their dominance versus inferior opponents with Sunday’s 95-75 rout at Cleveland to win for the sixth time in seven games after a three-game losing streak to teams with winning records.

After visiting the nation’s capital, Oklahoma City will be in for another major test Wednesday when it concludes this three-game trip at Southeast Division-leading Miami.

Possibly having Perkins available ahead of that matchup could prove valuable.

The center has a strained MCL that has forced him to miss nine games, eight since being acquired in a four-player trade with Boston on Feb. 24.

Perkins should help solidify Oklahoma City’s defense, while also providing a strong presence on the boards. He’s averaged 8.0 rebounds over three seasons with the Celtics including playoffs.

The Thunder are one of the top offensive teams in the league, and are averaging 108.0 points over the last seven games. They’ve been even better in the past three meetings with Washington, scoring 120.3 per contest.

All-Star Russell Westbrook(notes) notched his fifth career - and most recent - triple-double against the Wizards in January, scoring 35 points with 13 rebounds and 13 assists.

“Once he gets it going, he’s tough to stop,” forward Kevin Durant(notes) said.

Westbrook came up big Sunday, scoring 14 of his 20 points in the third quarter as Oklahoma City pulled away and was afforded the chance to rest him and Durant in the fourth quarter.

Durant, who finished with 19 points against the Cavaliers, leads the NBA at 28.0 points per game. He had 40 points in the latest matchup with Washington, and is averaging 33.4 over the past five.

The Wizards have dropped 10 of 11 after falling 122-101 to the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday.

“We know it’s a rebuilding process right now and there’s going to be ups and downs,” guard John Wall(notes) said. “I hoped this year would be better but it’s tough right now. All we can try to do is finish strong.”

Wall has been one of the few bright spots for Washington, leading all rookies with an average of 8.8 assists. His 15.7 points per game is only behind by the Clippers’ Blake Griffin(notes) (22.6) among rookies.

Wall, though, struggled mightily with his shot against the Thunder in January, connecting on 5 of 19 field goals - 1 of 4 from 3-point range - to finish with 13 points. He also had 10 assists and five rebounds.

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Monday, Mar 14