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NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Tuesday, February 12th (All times Eastern)
Oklahoma City Thunder (39-12) at Utah Jazz (28-24), 9 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Oklahoma City Thunder will carry a four-game winning streak into action Tuesday night when they visit the Utah Jazz at Energy Solutions Arena.
The Thunder haven't lost in 10 days and that was an ugly road setback in Cleveland to the Cavaliers. Since, they've taken out the Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors and Phoenix Suns at home, then, on Sunday dealt the Suns another loss, this time in their own building.
A four-game winning streak is nice, but the Thunder destroyed these teams. OKC won by an average of 25.3 ppg and all four victories were by 20 points or more. This marked the third time in franchise history the team went on such a resounding run and the first since March of 1995.
Kevin Durant is amazing and an MVP candidate, but this spurt was fueled by the Thunder's other All-Star, Russell Westbrook. The reigning Western Conference Player of the Week averaged 21.8 points, 6.0 assists, 3.3 steals and 3.0 rebounds during the week.
"We're just taking it one day at a time. It's a long season," said Westbrook. "As you get closer to All-Star break teams relax. We're just trying to speed it up a little bit."
Against the Suns on Sunday, Westbrook had 24 points, six assists and four steals. Durant chipped in 18, but Thabo Sefolosha was critical. Normally out there for his defensive prowess, Sefolosha knocked down a career-best five 3- pointers en route to a season-high 20 points.
To set a franchise record with five consecutive 20-point victories may be a tall order against a Jazz team that is 19-6 at home this season.
The Jazz head into Tuesday's tilt losers of two in a row. They fell Friday night at home to the Chicago Bulls, then lost 120-109 in Sacramento to the Kings on Saturday.
Alec Burks had a career-high with 24 points and Al Jefferson scored 16. Enes Kanter continued his strong play of late with 15 points in just about 25 minutes and DeMarre Carroll added 14 off the bench.
Defensively, the Jazz played very poorly, allowing the Kings their second- highest point total of the season. Sacramento shot 52 percent from the field and 42 percent from long range and beat Utah on the boards, 44-39.
"We just couldn't get over the hump," said Utah coach Tyrone Corbin. "They made some baskets, but these guys will continue to work hard. We'll get better, we just have to learn to be smarter and tougher in key situations."
The Jazz are 4-1 in their last five at home, but only 2-3 in their last five overall. Gordon Hayward is expected to miss another game with his ailing shoulder.
The Thunder won this season's only matchup with Utah, a 106-94 victory in Oklahoma City on Nov. 30. OKC has won six of the last seven and four of its last six in Utah.
02/12 10:30:29 ET
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