The Oklahoma City Thunder are on the verge of the franchise's best start and longest win streak since its days in the Pacific Northwest. A visit from the Sacramento Kings would appear to give them a prime opportunity to accomplish both feats.
The Thunder will seek a 10th consecutive victory Friday night while trying to add to their recent dominance over the Kings.
Oklahoma City has matched its 18-4 start from last season and hasn't had a better one as a franchise since winning 20 of its first 22 games in 1993-94 as the Seattle SuperSonics.
The Thunder have gotten there with a nine-game win streak that's one shy of its longest since a string of 11 consecutive victories Nov. 7-24, 1996.
Oklahoma City, though, had to fight to keep its current run going Wednesday against Western Conference-worst New Orleans. The Thunder trailed by 11 points with less than two minutes remaining in the third quarter before rallying for a 92-88 win, their eighth in a row at home.
"We were making the right plays. We just weren't finishing shots," said Kevin Durant, who scored 35 points. "We knew that was going to be a long game so we stuck with it on the defensive end and had faith in our offense and were able to make some shots."
Durant's team now looks to have an easier time against the West's second-worst club.The Thunder had a 12-game streak of triple-digit scoring performances snapped Wednesday against the last-place Hornets, but they've topped the century mark in each of their last six games against Sacramento (7-14).
Oklahoma City has not faced the Kings since beating them three times in April. The Thunder have won 12 of the past 14 meetings overall and are unbeaten in seven home matchups since relocating from Seattle.
The Kings don't appear poised to end that drought as they're 1-8 on the road and have cooled off following a season-high three consecutive wins.
"We better be ready to play," guard Aaron Brooks said. "We've got a tough task ahead of us, but I've seen stranger stuff happen so we have to come out and play hard.
After allowing fewer than 83 points in victories over Orlando and Portland last week, Sacramento couldn't contain Dallas and Milwaukee in road defeats this week.
The Kings allowed the Bucks to score 30 points in the final period Wednesday and pull away for a 98-85 victory. That followed their season high for points allowed in a 119-96 loss to Dallas on Monday.
Tyreke Evans had a team-best 17 points off the bench in Milwaukee while playing for the second time since Nov. 29. Evans, dealing with a sore left knee, was one of only three Kings to score in double figures as the team shot 37.2 percent.
"It felt good to be back. Hopefully, I can get into a rhythm in the next game and play better," Evans said.
Sacramento could get a boost with the expected return of leading scorer and rebounder DeMarcus Cousins from a suspension. Cousins, averaging 17.2 points and 9.9 boards, was forced to sit out one game for hitting Dallas' O.J. Mayo in the groin during Monday's loss.
Cousins, who was suspended for two games earlier this season, had 32 points in the Kings' most recent matchup with Oklahoma City, a 118-110 road loss April 24. Durant also scored 32 in that game despite missing 12 of 19 shots and is averaging 29.8 in his last five games in the series.
Sacramento's top reserve, Marcus Thornton, missed Wednesday's game due to personal reasons and is unlikely to play in this contest.