NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, April 11th (All times Eastern)
New Orleans Pelicans (32-46) at Oklahoma City Thunder (57-21), 8 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Oklahoma City Thunder are rapidly losing out on a chance for the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, but they'll continue to battle for it Friday night when they host the New Orleans Pelicans at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
The Thunder are 3 1/2 games behind the San Antonio Spurs for Western Conference supremacy. San Antonio only needs one win or a Thunder loss to clinch homecourt throughout the playoffs.
After back-to-back losses to start a four-game road trip, the Thunder closed out the sojourn with consecutive wins. They beat the Sacramento Kings, then dispatched the Los Angeles Clippers, 107-101 Wednesday night.
Russell Westbrook filled the stat sheet with 30 points, 10 rebounds and six assists to carry the Thunder. Westbrook came away with a pair of key offensive rebounds down the stretch after the Clippers had trimmed a once 17-point deficit down to one.
"To win a big game, you've got to do little things," Westbrook said. "It's not always going to be a big shot, or maybe a big steal, rebound; big block, big box out. You are never going to know what you'll need to do, but we did all of those things tonight."
Kevin Durant, after having his streak of 25-plus points stopped in a win over the Kings on Monday, needed 26 shots to score 27 points in the tight win.
Serge Ibaka was the only other OKC player to score in double figures with 15.
After Friday's home tilt with the Pelicans, the Thunder hit the road for two straight, including a big matchup with the Indiana Pacers on Sunday. They visit these Pelicans, then close out the regular season with a home game against the Detroit Pistons.
The Pelicans have lost six straight and four in a row on the road.
On Wednesday, New Orleans lost at home, 94-88, to the Phoenix Suns.
Anthony Davis did not play in New Orleans' sixth straight loss due to back spasms. Jeff Withey played more minutes in his absence and led the club with 17 points. Darius Miller and Anthony Morrow each netted 14 in the setback.
"I have nothing to complain about with our group," Pelicans head coach Monty Williams said. "We scrapped and played the way we like to play. Just couldn't put the ball in the basket enough times."
It's going to be tough for the Pelicans to snap this losing streak. They visit Houston on Saturday, then close with the Thunder and Rockets at home Monday and Wednesday.
The Thunder have won nine straight over the Pelicans and seven in a row against New Orleans as the host.
04/11 11:00:26 ET