Thunder go for No. 2 spot against Pelicans
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Oklahoma City Thunder can wrap up the second seed in the Western Conference with just one more victory and will try to do so Monday night when they visit the Smoothie King Center to face the New Orleans Pelicans.
Oklahoma City is two games in front of the Los Angeles Clippers, who hold the tiebreaker advantage, for that second seed and should feel good about its chances on Monday night. The Pelicans have lost eight straight and All-Star Anthony Davis has been shelved for the season.
Also, the Thunder have won 10 in a row versus New Orleans, including four straight in the Big Easy.
On Sunday afternoon, OKC dropped a tough matchup against the Eastern Conference's best team, the Indiana Pacers. The Thunder fell 102-97 in Indianapolis, but did erase an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter before Indiana pulled away late.
"One of the great things about this team that I coach is that they're going to keep fighting, they're going to keep competing and they're never going to quit," OKC head coach Scott Brooks said. "When we were down by (11) points, it didn't look good, but our group knows that we're going to keep battling and make it a game."
The Thunder tied the game with just under three minutes to play. Indiana's Paul George and Lance Stephenson both made 3-pointers and David West hit a jumper. Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka made 3-pointers themselves and the deficit was two with 9.5 seconds remaining, but the Pacers made free throws to seal the victory.
Kevin Durant scored 38 for the Thunder, but he was just 2-of-11 from beyond the arc. Russell Westbrook added 21 points, nine boards and seven assists for Oklahoma City, which had a three-game winning streak broken.
The Pelicans haven't won since a home contest against the Utah Jazz on March 28.
On Saturday, New Orleans held a 13-point lead in Houston over the Rockets, but fell, 111-104.
The Pelicans played without several key contributors besides Davis. Eric Gordon, Tyreke Evans and Brian Roberts all missed the game and that's on top of All-Star guard Jrue Holiday and center Jason Smith, who have both been out for months.
Luke Babbitt posted a career-high 24 points, while Austin Rivers and Anthony Morrow added 20 points apiece in the setback, New Orleans' sixth straight road defeat.
"Down the stretch they made play after play," said Pelicans coach Monty Williams. "It was a tough, tough physical game."
The Pelicans close the season at home against the Thunder, then get back at it with the Rockets Wednesday night in New Orleans.
The last time the Pelicans beat the Thunder came in the Big Easy on Jan. 24, 2011.
04/14 10:09:09 ET