Inquirer Daily News


NBA Preview from The Sports Network



Friday, April 4th (All times Eastern)

Oklahoma City Thunder (55-19) at Houston Rockets (49-25), 9:30 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - The beast has been slayed.

The beast was a franchise-record 19-game winning streak by the San Antonio Spurs, who were taken down by Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Oklahoma City looks to build on its impressive win Friday against the Houston Rockets in the opener of a four-game road trip at the Toyota Center. OKC handed the Spurs a 106-94 defeat on Thursday and was led by Durant's 28 points and seven rebounds.

Durant has scored at least 25 points in each of the past 39 games, the most since Michael Jordan turned the trick in 40 consecutive games back in 1986-87. Durant last failed to score 25 or more points on Jan. 5 versus Boston.

Russell Westbrook netted 27 points with six assists in Oklahoma City's third straight victory overall and seventh win in the last eight games. Serge Ibaka contributed an 11-point, 12-rebound double-double and Reggie Jackson added 14 points off the bench for the Thunder.

"Our defense was outstanding in the second half," said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. "I thought we started that third quarter really making it tough on them getting good, clean looks. That's one of the hardest things to do against the Spurs."

The Thunder pulled within three games of San Antonio for the West's top seed and will also visit Phoenix, Sacramento and Los Angeles (Clippers). They are 23-12 away from home this season.

Houston is closing in on a playoff spot, but has dropped three in a row since winning five straight.

The losing continued for the Rockets, who dropped a 107-103 decision to the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday up north. The Rockets almost overcame a 20-point hole and were led by James Harden's 26 points. Chandler Parsons added 20 points and Jeremy Lin netted 16 in defeat.

"We just couldn't get stops," Harden said. "The basketball was stuck on the offensive end; turnovers, it was a variety of things that gave them easy points."

Dwight Howard did not play and is still bothered by an ankle issue. He is listed as questionable Friday. Forward Terrence Jones (illness) is also questionable versus the Thunder.

The Rockets will also host Denver on this brief homestand and have a 29-8 record in Space City this season. They are fourth in the Western Conference -- one game ahead of Portland.

Houston is winless (0-3) against Oklahoma City this season and has lost five of the past six meetings between the teams. The Thunder, though, have dropped 13 of the previous 17 matchups in the Lone Star State.

04/04 10:35:14 ET