Jazz-Thunder Preview


The league-leading Oklahoma City Thunder have a busy stretch heading into the All-Star break, but at least they enter that home-heavy portion of their schedule following a nice break.

The road-weary Utah Jazz won't have that luxury when they make their only appearance in Oklahoma City this season.

The Thunder go for their first seven-game home winning streak since 2004 on Tuesday night when they face a Jazz team completing its only back-to-back-to-back set of games in 2011-12.

With seven games over the next 10 days, the Thunder (21-6) will have little rest before the league's annual mid-season showcase.

Oklahoma City, though, has not played since capping off a 3-2 trip with Friday's 101-87 victory over Utah.

The Thunder will also only have to travel once before the break - Wednesday versus Houston.

"It's just good to be home in our own house, our own city," coach Scott Brooks told the Thunders' official website on Monday. "We're going to be home for a while. That doesn't guarantee victories. We still have to work on a lot of the things that we need to improve and play with good energy, but it's nice to be in front of our home crowd for a while."

With a fifth straight victory in this series, Oklahoma City would match the franchise's best 11-game home start since the 2004-05 Seattle SuperSonics opened 10-1.

A victory would also give the Thunder the team's first 7-0 run on its home floor since Seattle's 9-0 stretch to begin the 2004-05 season.

"We get to focus on trying to take care of our home court," said Kevin Durant, who averaged 26.8 points on the trip after scoring 19 on Friday. "We're going to have some tough teams coming here, but it's going to be fun. I'm looking forward to it."

The Jazz (14-13) probably aren't as excited about putting their road jerseys on for a third straight night. After snapping a season-high three-game skid with Sunday's 98-88 victory over Memphis, Utah lost 86-80 to Western Conference-worst New Orleans.

Starters Devin Harris, Raja Bell, Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap were benched for the entire fourth quarter - and it wasn't just to rest for Tuesday.

"It's absolutely (disappointing)," said coach Tyrone Corbin, whose team has dropped six of eight, told the league's official website. "It's everything I thought it wouldn't be, it happened tonight. ... We thought we could just show up and win the ballgame."

Durant and point guard Russell Westbrook will likely have Utah's full attention. The Jazz did a relatively nice job limiting Durant to 10 shots on Friday, but Westbrook scored a team-high 28 points with six rebounds and five steals.

Westbrook, an All-Star reserve, was named the Western Conference player of the week on Monday. He had team highs with 27.6 points and 5.4 assists on the just-completed trip.

Jefferson, who had 20 points and eight rebounds on Friday, leads Utah with 35 points and 27 boards since that loss - the Jazz's third straight at home versus Oklahoma City.