The Oklahoma City Thunder haven’t produced back-to-back 50-win seasons since a mid-1990s run when the franchise was located in Seattle.
That will change with one more victory.
Oklahoma City seeks its fifth straight win Wednesday night when it visits the fading Phoenix Suns.
The SuperSonics won at least 55 games from 1992-93 through 1997-98, and the franchise is beginning to realize similar success after relocating to Oklahoma City prior to the 2008-09 season.
The Thunder (49-24) lead the Northwest Division and sit fourth in the Western Conference, five games ahead of fifth-place Denver. They won their fourth straight Tuesday, 115-114 in overtime against Golden State.
Kevin Durant(notes) scored 39 points and Russell Westbrook(notes) made up for a poor shooting night by hitting the winning free throw with 11.4 seconds remaining in the extra session. Durant was used as a decoy on the final possession as Westbrook drove the lane and was fouled.
“Russell’s a big-time scorer and we wanted to get him something driving to the basket, which is his strength. We knew they were going to call a foul if he drives so hard and tried to score,” Durant said. “It was good for either person. I could have posted up at the free-throw line and tried to get a shot or Russell could have took it to the rim.”
Oklahoma City has won eight overtime games this season, one short of the NBA record set by Sacramento in 2000-01.
“It is not the way we wanted to execute down the stretch, but we did get the win and I give our guys credit for staying together and hanging in there,” coach Scott Brooks said.
Westbrook scored 32 points March 6 in a 122-118 overtime victory against Phoenix, which has lost three straight and is on the verge of missing the playoffs for the second time in three seasons—and only the third time since the 1988-89 season.
The 10th-place Suns (36-37) fell 4 1/2 games behind Memphis for the West’s final playoff spot with a 116-113 loss to Sacramento on Tuesday. Phoenix has dropped eight of 11.
“You have to play your way into the playoffs,” coach Alvin Gentry said. “Right now, the way we’re playing we don’t deserve to be in the playoffs. All the teams we are chasing are really good. And we are not. We are still alive in the playoff race, but we are basically on life support.”
Vince Carter(notes) missed the December matchup after being acquired in a multiplayer deal with Orlando the previous day. He’s averaged 31.0 points in the two losses against Oklahoma City this season, but comes in having totaled 12 over the last three games.