Hornets-Thunder Preview

The Associated Press

Since losing to the league's worst team last week, the Western Conference-leading Oklahoma City Thunder have been taking out their frustration on other bottom feeders.

They'll look to add the West-worst New Orleans Hornets to the list Wednesday night in Oklahoma City.

The Thunder (14-3) have won nine of 10, but that lone loss was an embarrassing 105-102 setback to Washington last Wednesday. They bounced back with an 84-74 win over New Jersey three days later and cruised to a 99-79 victory over Detroit on Monday.

Oklahoma City, which led the Nets by as many as 17 points in the third quarter, built a 30-point lead over the Pistons midway through the second. That cushion allowed it to rest all but one of its starters - Serge Ibaka remained in after Nick Collison left with a sprained left ankle - for the final period.

Russell Westbrook and James Harden each had 24 points while Kevin Durant scored 20 in 29 minutes, but it was once again Oklahoma City's defense that set the tone.

The Thunder limited Detroit to 12 first-quarter points and 34.1 percent shooting overall after holding New Jersey to 31.0 percent. The last two games have been the first occasions in which Oklahoma City has held opponents to fewer than 85 points.

"Our thing is just us being competitive, helping one another and being focused," guard Thabo Sefolosha said. "So, I think we did a good job the last two games and we have to keep going."

Even if Collison - who's day to day - can't go, Oklahoma City shouldn't have trouble stopping the Hornets, who rank last in the West in scoring (87.4 points per game).

The Thunder are 12-0 when limiting opponents to double digits

New Orleans (3-14) did show some signs of life offensively against San Antonio on Monday, cracking triple digits for the first time this season, but still lost 104-102. Tim Duncan hit a 13-foot shot over Emeka Okafor with 1.4 seconds left to deal the Hornets an eighth straight defeat and third in a row by just two points.

"It's extremely frustrating," said Jarrett Jack, who scored 26 points to increase his team-leading average to 16.6. "The good part is that we gave ourselves a chance. That's all that you can really ask for in this league. It just comes down to making plays."

The Hornets, who haven't lost nine straight since April 6-20, 2005, gave the Thunder some trouble in the first meeting of the season in New Orleans on Jan. 11.

The Hornets scored the game's first eight points and trailed by just three after three quarters, but Westbrook scored eight of his 22 in the fourth as the Thunder pulled away to win 95-85.

Durant finished with 29 points and 10 rebounds as Oklahoma City beat New Orleans for the sixth time in seven meetings. Durant is averaging 30.3 points on 52.1 percent shooting in those wins.

The latest defeat in this series started the Hornets' current losing streak.

Although Oklahoma City struggled to put away New Orleans two weeks ago, fatigue could have been a factor as the Thunder were playing their fifth game in six days. They haven't played on back-to-back nights since.

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