Thunder-Kings Preview

The Associated Press

On eight of nine previous occasions this season, the Oklahoma City Thunder have won following a loss. Given Kevin Durant's play of late as well as the Thunder's recent dominance of the Kings, there is a good opportunity to make it nine of 10 on Friday night when the teams meet in Sacramento.

The Thunder own the league's best record at 33-10. They are 2-2 on their six-game road swing but have won eight of 11 in this current 13-game stretch that features 11 road contests. Making its third stop on the California portion of the trek, Oklahoma City is trying to avoid consecutive losses for only the second time after a 104-99 setback to Golden State on Wednesday night.

Durant scored 33 points - his 20th game with at least 30 - to lead five players in double figures, but Russell Westbrook was 3 for 16 from the field, matched a season low with 10 points and committed six turnovers.

Oklahoma City, which squandered an eight-point lead in the final 7:02, committed 19 turnovers that led to 24 points for Golden State and dropped to 6-4 when having that many miscues.

"We could have been much better defensively," coach Scott Brooks said. "They made a lot of plays inside the paint but they got a lot of points off of our turnovers, too. We didn't make enough plays down the stretch and they did. They deserved to win this game."

Durant, who leads the NBA in scoring at 29.6 points per game, has averaged 33.4 on 52.7 percent shooting over Oklahoma City's last 11 games and 35.7 points while shooting 93.1 percent from the foul line (94 for 101) in the nine road contests. He scored 31 in a 113-103 win over Sacramento on Dec. 14, and has averaged 29.5 points in helping Oklahoma City win 11 of 13 between the teams since the start of the 2009-10 season.

Westbrook was an effective distributor in last month's win, getting four of his 13 assists in a game-breaking 22-4 run during which ex-King Kevin Martin had nine of his 18 points. Serge Ibaka added 18 and 11 rebounds as the Thunder withstood a late rally that saw the Kings whittle a 24-point fourth-quarter deficit to five.

Sacramento (16-27) looks to avoid a third consecutive defeat after falling apart in the second half of a 106-96 home loss to Phoenix on Wednesday. The Kings were held to 19 fourth-quarter points, got outscored 57-39 in the second half and committed 24 turnovers that led to 27 points for the Suns.

"A very disappointing loss for our basketball team - 24 turnovers, 27 points we gave on those turnovers, and a lot of missed free throws (15 of 24)," coach Keith Smart said. "It's unfortunate for our team to lose this game."

A positive Smart could take away from the game was the effort from rookie Thomas Robinson, who matched a season high with 12 points and pulled down a season-best 14 rebounds in 26 minutes for his second double-double. The fifth overall pick had totaled four points and 11 rebounds spanning 31 minutes in his previous four games.

Guard Tyreke Evans had 16 points and four assists for the third consecutive game. He's averaged 14.2 points in nine games since returning from a knee injury, but has scored 15.8 points per game on 50.7 percent shooting in six since Smart put him back into the starting lineup Jan. 14.

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