Kings look to upset West's-best OKC

Kings look to upset West's-best OKC
February 10, 2012, 12:21 am
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Kevin Durant has scored 33 points in each of Oklahoma City's last two games in helping the Thunder rally for a pair of victories.The three-time All-Star could be poised for another big outing.Durant looks to lead the Western Conference-best Thunder to a seventh straight win over the Kings on Thursday night at Power Balance Pavilion, one of the two-time scoring champion's favorite arenas.After scoring 13 of his points in the fourth quarter and overtime in Monday's 111-107 victory over Portland, Durant scored 12 in the final period of Tuesday's 119-116 win over Golden State. He made the go-ahead bank shot with 14.2 seconds remaining against the Warriors after putting the finishing touches on Monday's victory with a dunk with 2.9 seconds left.

"It's fun," said Durant, who has reached the 30-point mark five times in the last seven contests after having one 30-point game in his previous 14. "This is what you dream about as a kid. Guys want to take those shots and play in those minutes."The Thunder (20-5) haven't needed any late-game heroics from Durant against the Kings.Oklahoma City has won six straight in the series since a 101-98 loss Nov. 10, 2009, with the four meetings last season being decided by an average of 13.8 points. Not surprisingly, Durant - third in the league with 27.3 points per game - has played a big role in the Thunder's success, especially in Sacramento.In five games at Power Balance Pavilion since 2008-09, Durant is averaging 32.8 points, his best at any arena.Durant, however, isn't the only player the Kings need to worry about on the Thunder, one of the league's highest-scoring teams at 101.2 points per game.Russell Westbrook is averaging 27.1 points in his last seven games, while James Harden is averaging 20.3 on 52.1 percent shooting in his last four. Westbrook had 31 points and seven assists Tuesday to help give the Thunder their fourth win in five games.Oklahoma City's high-powered offense will likely be a big test for Sacramento, which is playing much better defensively.The Kings (9-16) are allowing an average of 94.2 points on 42.7 percent shooting in splitting their last six games after allowing an average of 117.0 points on 52.0 percent shooting in losing their previous three.Sacramento did a good job of shutting down a Minnesota team playing without the suspended Kevin Love on Tuesday, but the offense struggled in an 86-84 defeat.Tyreke Evans, who averages 17.2 points, scored 11 on 5-of-13 shooting, while DeMarcus Cousins shot 3 for 13 and finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds after combining for 49 points and 39 boards in his previous two games.Rookie Jimmer Fredette, benched for two straight games last week, helped pick up the slack, scoring all 13 of his points in the fourth quarter as the Kings nearly erased a nine-point deficit. Sacramento had a chance to win, but Donte Greene's 3-pointer from the corner missed at the buzzer."It would have been a perfect, happy ending to our comeback for that to go in," Greene said. "But it didn't fall."A game against Oklahoma City, which has allowed at least 107 points in each of its last three games, could help Evans and Cousins bounce back from Tuesday's subpar showings.Evans scored 52 points in his two games against the Thunder last season, while Cousins averaged 21.0 points in four - his second-highest average against any team during his rookie season.

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