Durant, who has routinely frustrated the Warriors, looks to lead the playoff-bound Oklahoma City Thunder to a fifth straight home win over Golden State on Tuesday night.
Oklahoma City (48-24) clinched its second straight playoff berth Sunday with a 99-90 victory over Portland. It was the ninth win in 10 games for the Northwest Division-leading Thunder, who own a 4 1/2-game lead over second-place Denver with 10 to play.
“A couple of years ago we were the worst team ever,” Durant told the Thunder’s official website. “Two years later we have clinched consecutive playoff appearances, so it feels good. We just have to keep pushing.”
Russell Westbrook(notes) led the way Sunday with 28 points and hit three 3-pointers in the final 5 1/2 minutes, including the clincher with 21 seconds remaining. Oklahoma City is 16-3 when Westbrook scores at least 28.
“Russell has a tremendous amount of pride and confidence in his game and he’s improving everyday with us,” coach Scott Brooks said. “He made the big shots.”
While Westbrook had a strong shooting performance, Durant had another tough time finding his rhythm.
He missed 13 of 18 shots to finish with 21 points, six in the second half. In his last four games, the two-time All-Star is shooting 36.2 percent and averaging 23.3 points - 4.4 fewer than his league-leading average.
Durant has had no such trouble scoring against Golden State (32-42).
In 13 career games against the Warriors, Durant is averaging 30.2 points for his most versus any Western Conference opponent.
Oklahoma City beat Golden State 114-109 at home Dec. 5 and lost 100-94 at Oracle Arena on Feb. 13. The Thunder, 7-1 in Oklahoma City this month, have won all four home games against the Warriors since moving from Seattle prior to the 2008-09 season.
The Oklahoma City Arena isn’t the only venue giving Golden State trouble.
The Warriors have lost a season-worst six straight road games, getting outscored by an average of 16.6 points in the last five.
They are coming off Sunday’s 114-104 win over Washington, their second straight following a six-game skid. Golden State hasn’t won three in a row since Feb. 13-16.
Although they were officially eliminated from playoff contention earlier Sunday, Monta Ellis(notes) is still determined to help lead the Warriors to a strong finish. He played all 48 minutes against the Wizards and finished with 37 points, a career high-tying 13 assists and seven rebounds.
“This is our job. We’re pros. Our season is not over with yet,” said Ellis, who has averaged 32.0 points in his last two games after averaging 15.4 in his previous seven. “We still have eight more games, just go out there and see how many we could win.”
The Warriors already have won six more games than they did last season.
Ellis is averaging 31.0 points in the two games against the Thunder this season and has topped the 25-point mark in five of the last six meetings.