Thunder-Nets Preview

The Associated Press

The two cornerstones of the Oklahoma City Thunder are signed through 2015-16. Now Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook can help the Western Conference leaders get back to the business of winning.

Playing their first game since Westbrook inked an extension, the Thunder look to avoid a second straight loss when they close out their East Coast swing against the New Jersey Nets on Saturday night.

After extending Durant for five years in 2010, the Thunder locked up Westbrook for the next five seasons Thursday with a deal reportedly worth $80 million.

The fourth-year point guard, averaging 20.5 points with 5.5 assists and 5.0 rebounds, was set to become a restricted free agent at the end of the season.

"Words can't explain how happy I am for russwest44, signing his new deal...," Durant wrote on his Twitter account.

The Thunder (12-3), though, were not pleased with their most recent effort. After opening their trip with a 97-88 victory over Boston on Monday, Oklahoma City had its seven-game winning streak snapped Wednesday with a 105-102 loss to Washington, which came in with one victory.

Westbrook scored a season-best 36 points and Durant added 33, but the Thunder committed 21 turnovers. The Wizards grabbed 52 rebounds and shot 43 free throws - highs against Oklahoma City in 2011-12.

"Our defense just gave up too many second shots, too many free throws, and we turned the ball over too many times," coach Scott Brooks told the team's official website. "That's a tough combination to have on the road and win."

The Thunder, 6-2 away from home, have won their last two in New Jersey. Without an injured Durant, Oklahoma City posted a 123-120 triple-overtime victory in their latest visit Dec. 1, 2010.

Westbrook scored all 13 of his team's points in the final OT of that game and finished with 38 points. He also grabbed a career-high 15 rebounds and had nine assists.

That Nets team didn't have Williams, who will face Westbrook in the high-profile matchup of star point guards as New Jersey tries to snap a five-game skid in this series.

"Hopefully we'll have some energy, because we are going to need it against a really terrific Oklahoma team," said coach Avery Johnson, whose team has had two days off since its last contest - its longest break between games so far.

It would hard to describe the Nets (4-11) in those terms, but they had one of their better efforts in a 107-100 victory over Golden State on Wednesday. New Jersey made half of its 74 shots and outrebounded the Warriors by 20 for its first win of the season at home in five games.

The Nets last won two straight on their home floor during a five-game run March 4-14. The backcourt duo of Deron Williams and rookie MarShon Brooks could help them finally do so again.

Williams is providing his usual steady production with 18.4 points and 8.4 assists per game, while Brooks has averaged 16.8 points and gone 11 of 26 from 3-point range since being inserted into the starting lineup six games ago.

The two players combined for 46 points, 16 assists and 16 rebounds Wednesday.

"All I can say about them is, 'Wow!'" Johnson said.

Williams will face the Thunder for the first time in a Nets uniform. The former Utah Jazz player averaged 26.0 points and 12.2 assists in his last five games versus Oklahoma City.

Westbrook scored 26.8 points per game with 8.4 assists in those contests.

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