(SportsNetwork.com) - The Oklahoma City Thunder stepped up to every challenge
this season except their last game against the Portland Trail Blazers.
The Thunder look to restore that reputation Friday, when they face what could
be an easy test against the New Orleans Pelicans in the finale of a three-game
Oklahoma City had an eight-game winning streak halted with Wednesday's 111-104
setback at Portland and the momentum changed when the Trail Blazers used a
15-4 run in the third quarter. Kevin Durant, the NBA's leading scorer at 28.5
points per game, finished with 33 on 11-of-23 shooting and also grabbed seven
"We battled all the way till the end, we just couldn't close it out," Durant
Russell Westbrook had 21 points, Serge Ibaka ended with 13 and 10 rebounds and
Reggie Jackson netted 12 points off the bench. Jeremy Lamb scored 10 in a
reserve role for the Thunder, who had a 26-4 advantage in fastbreak points and
sit two games behind the Blazers for the Northwest Division lead.
OKC is 4-4 away from home and is in the midst of playing five of six games on
the road. The Thunder are 2-1 this season in games following a loss and have a
remarkable 34-8 record in those situations since 2011-12.
The Pelicans had won three in a row and six of eight games until opening a
four-game homestand with Wednesday's 100-97 loss to the Dallas Mavericks.
Jrue Holiday scored a season-high 26 points and handed out nine assists, while
Al-Farouq Aminu posted 16 points and 21 rebounds. New Orleans was coming off a
three-game road sweep of Philadelphia, New York and Chicago. The win over the
Bulls needed three overtime periods.
"We had a chance at the end," said Aminu, whose 20-foot jumper was off the
mark toward the end. "If the ball goes a different way, we may have won. It's
a hard game after coming off the road, but I think we fought."
Ryan Anderson had 18 points and 13 rebounds for the Pelicans, who shot 40.4
percent for the game and fell to 5-4 in the Crescent City. Anderson missed
long on a 3-point attempt in the waning seconds and is averaging a career-high
and team leading 22.1 points per game.
New Orleans still has Detroit and Memphis to entertain on the homestand.
The Pelicans and Thunder will play the first of three matchups between the
teams on Friday. Oklahoma City took all four meetings in this series last
season and has won eight straight and 12 of the previous 13 encounters.
Oklahoma City has won three straight and five of its last six trips to the Big
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