Oklahoma City losing at home to the Western Conference-worst New Orleans Hornets is nearly as hard to envision.
On the verge of their longest home winning streak in 14 seasons, the Thunder try Monday night for an eighth win in nine meetings with the Hornets, who are surprisingly looking for a fourth consecutive victory.
Oklahoma City (24-7) trailed by as many as 14 points Sunday against Denver, but stormed back behind a career-high 51 points from Durant and 40 from Westbrook to win 124-118 in overtime. Durant scored the last five points of regulation, sending the game to overtime on a dunk with 4.4 seconds left.
“The way we came back and the shots that were made in the fourth quarter and for us to win, that feels better to get the W,” Durant said.
“But 51 is pretty cool. As a kid, that’s something that you dream about.”
Durant and Westbrook, who combined for all 13 points in the extra session, are the first pair of teammates to each score at least 40 in the same regular season game since Chicago’s Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen scored 44 and 40, respectively, Feb. 18, 1996.
“It’s unreal, man,” said Westbrook, who didn’t seem hindered by a sprained right ankle he’d suffered Friday. “(Sunday) was a nice, epic game.”
Durant and Westbrook overshadowed an excellent performance by Serge Ibaka, who with 14 points, 15 rebounds and 11 blocks became the 14th player in franchise history to post a triple-double. The 6-foot-10 Congo native has blocked at least 10 shots three times this month.
The Thunder have outscored opponents by an average of 14.5 points during a nine-game home winning streak. The franchise hasn’t won 10 in a row at home since a 12-game run Feb. 22-April 2, 1998, as the Seattle Supersonics.
If its recent efforts against the Hornets (7-23) are any indication, Oklahoma City has to be feeling good about Monday. The Thunder have taken seven of the last eight matchups with New Orleans and extended their winning streak in the series to three with two 10-point victories this season.
The Hornets, however, are riding a season-best three-game winning streak. After defeating Utah 86-80 last Monday, New Orleans kicked off its current six-game road trip with a 92-89 win over Milwaukee on Wednesday, then handed Jeremy Lin and the New York Knicks an 89-85 defeat Friday night.
“We had a few lulls in the second and a little bit in the fourth. But when you play that kind of defense, to hold that team to 13 points in the first quarter and 19 in the third, you set yourself up to have a chance,” coach Monty Williams said after the win over the Knicks.
The Hornets are holding opponents to 84.7 points per game and 40.2 percent shooting from the field during their modest winning streak.
New Orleans is beginning its only back-to-back-to-back stretch of the season. The Hornets will face Indiana on Tuesday before concluding the grueling portion of schedule with a visit to Cleveland in their final game before the All-Star break.