NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Tuesday, February 23rd (All times eastern)
Phoenix Suns (34-23) at Oklahoma City Thunder (33-21), 8 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Kevin Durant leads his red-hot Oklahoma City Thunder against the Phoenix Suns tonight in a battle of Western Conference contenders at the Ford Center.
The Thunder, who are one-half game ahead of Phoenix for the fifth spot in the West playoff hunt, won their ninth straight game in Minneapolis on Sunday when Durant kept his amazing scoring streak alive by netting 32 points to help Oklahoma City take a 109-107 decision over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Durant, the NBA's second-leading scorer, is the only active player to score at least 25 points in 28 straight games. The third-year forward out of Texas surpassed Allen Iverson, who reached the magic number in 27 consecutive contests during his MVP season in 2000-2001. Durant now has his sights set on Michael Jordan, who scored 25-plus points in 40 straight games during the 1986-87 season.
Russell Westbrook recorded a triple-double with 22 points, 14 assists, and 10 rebounds for the Thunder, who have won nine in a row for the first time since the 2004-05 campaign when they were the Seattle SuperSonics. Jeff Green tallied 17 points and 14 rebounds for Oklahoma City, which has also won five straight games on the road.
"We didn't do a good job of closing the game out but we made enough plays to win the game," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said.
The Thunder franchise hasn't won 10 in a row since an 11-game run from Nov. 7-24, 1996.
The Suns, meanwhile, are also coming off an impressive win Sunday when Jason Richardson had 26 points to lead a balanced scoring effort, as Phoenix continued its recent mastery of Sacramento with a 104-88 home victory.
Amare Stoudemire posted 19 points and 14 rebounds, while Steve Nash handed out 17 assists and scored 11 to help the Suns win for the eighth time in 10 tries.
Grant Hill added 16 points, Robin Lopez 14 and Channing Frye a dozen as Phoenix bested the Kings for a fifth straight time and in 16 of the past 18 meetings.
"The second half we just realized how important these Western Conference games are. Everybody is on everybody else's heels. One game can determine whether you have home court advantage or not," said Stoudemire. "With that being said, we know how important these games are and we attack it as such."
Oklahoma City snapped a nine-game skid to the Suns with a 117-113 win in the desert back on Dec. 23.
02/23 10:32:02 ET