Thunder (2-game winning streak)
106.2 Offensive Efficiency (2nd)
99.4 Defensive Efficiency (14th)
96.0 Pace (5th)
Hornets (3-game winning streak)
96.3 Offensive Efficiency (26th)
101.9 Defensive Efficiency (20th)
90.4 Pace (last)
The Thunder are coming off an amazing win last night in overtime against the Denver Nuggets 124-118. Kevin Durant scored a career-high 51 points. Russell Westbrook scored 40 points and Serge Ibaka had a triple-double with 14 points, 15 rebounds and 11 blocks. Durant and Westbrook became the first teammates to score 50 and 40 points in a game since Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. The Thunder have beaten New Orleans twice already this season. Durant is averaging 27.0 points per game against them. Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry are the two Hornets players that hurt the Thunder the most and both will be out tonight with injuries. Somehow however the Hornets are on a three-game winning streak and are the only team that beat the Jeremy Lin-led Knicks since Linsanity began.
Thunder keys to the game
1. Let down game
The Thunder had a great win last night in overtime and tonight they play a pretty poor team. This game is a good candidate to be a “let down” game for the Thunder. They’re probably going to be a little worn down from last night so we’ll see if New Orleans is able to take advantage. The Thunder have surprised many times this season with their ability to easily comeback in games after falling behind early. They are just so talented that I don’t think they will suffer too much tonight after the overtime win last night.
The Thunder have fallen back into their old ways lately struggling on the glass. New Orleans is the ninth best team in the NBA in terms of rebound rate and could give the Thunder some trouble in that department. Kendrick Perkins hasn’t been playing great lately so the Thunder might play more small ball and go with Nick Collison some. Combine that with the fact that Ibaka is blocking everything lately and the Hornets might have a chance to do some damage on the offensive glass tonight. Durant is one of the best defensive rebounders in the NBA but doesn’t get his boards by boxing out a ton. He will need to be ready to mix it up down low and the Thunder might need double-digit boards from him tonight to win.
3. James Harden
The Thunder got great statistical nights from Durant, Westbrook and Ibaka last night but Harden actually struggled quite a bit in the game and scored only 10 points. Harden is usually great at home and expect a big bounce back night from him tonight. The second unit wasn’t an advantage for the Thunder against the Nuggets but really should be against the Hornets. Harden should have a big night running the second unit tonight and expect the Thunder to pull away in the second quarter when he’s in.
Prediction: Oklahoma City wins 105-87.