Thunder-Hawks Preview

The Associated Press

The Oklahoma City Thunder's consistent success has made them forget about their very brief early-season struggles, which basically ended after a home loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

In order to set a new franchise-best winning streak, they'll have to avenge one of their few defeats.

Oklahoma City seeks a 12th consecutive victory as it begins a three-game road swing Wednesday night in Atlanta.

The Thunder (20-4) have surged to the NBA's best record during their current run, bouncing back from a 1-2 start after a 104-95 home loss to the Hawks on Nov. 4. They've won 18 of 20 since and matched the 1996-97 Seattle SuperSonics' franchise-record winning streak with a 107-93 victory over San Antonio on Monday.

Serge Ibaka scored a career-high 25 points and added a season-best 17 rebounds, while Russell Westbrook scored 22 points and Kevin Martin 20 off the bench.

"It was good for us to get a win, but we've got to keep moving on," said Kevin Durant, who scored 19 points and is third in the league at 27.1 points per game.

Durant has six 30-point games during this run for Oklahoma City, which is averaging an NBA-best 105.8 points and is second from beyond the arc at 41.1 percent.

"We're happy with it but we're not satisfied,'' coach Scott Brooks said. "We're going to keep doing what we do, and that's play every game the best we can and live with the results. We know we're not going to win every game in this league.''

That was proven early, as Durant's 22 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists couldn't help the Thunder avoid a loss to the Hawks, who have won 12 of their last 15 after beating Washington 100-95 in overtime Tuesday.

Josh Smith, who sat out the meeting in Oklahoma City with a sprained right ankle, finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds against the Wizards while Lou Williams scored a season-high 24 points off the bench.

Atlanta (15-7), starting a stretch of four games in five nights, was coming off a 115-93 home loss to Golden State on Saturday in which it shot a season-worst 36.9 percent, hitting only 5 of 26 from 3-point range.

"We didn't play with a lot of energy, so I just wanted to be aggressive any time I had the ball,'' Williams said.

Devin Harris injured his foot in the first half Tuesday and didn't return, forcing DeShawn Stevenson into action. He scored eight points and hit all three of his shots in nearly 13 minutes.

"I had no choice but to play DeShawn,'' coach Larry Drew said. "And I'll tell you what, he really stepped it up big time for me. His presence was felt immediately.''

Al Horford, who had 23 points and 12 rebounds in the first matchup with the Thunder, had 11 boards and six assists but scored only five points and shot 2 of 11 from the field Tuesday.

Smith had 30 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Hawks to a 97-90 victory March 3 in the last meeting in Atlanta - a game Horford missed - to help overcome 35 points from Durant and 25 from Westbrook.

Durant is averaging 30.4 points in his last five games versus the Hawks.

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