Game Preview: Thunder at Celtics
Since a subpar game against Boston earlier this month, Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant has been on an offensive binge.
Looking to lead the Thunder to a sixth straight victory, Durant will try to score at least 30 points for a 10th consecutive contest Friday night against the Celtics, the last team to hold him under the mark.
Averaging a league-high 31.0 points, Durant is working toward a fourth career scoring title, but even he hasn't experienced a stretch like this. The Thunder forward has averaged 38.9 points while reaching 30 in a career-high nine straight, scoring 36 in a 111-105 win at San Antonio on Wednesday.
"(Durant) scores because he's a smart player," coach Scott Brooks told the team's official website. "He scores because he has the ability to put the ball on the floor and score on different spots on the floor. He also scores because we have good players around him. If you double team, we have guys who can make you pay."
One of those is Reggie Jackson, who contributed a career high-tying 27 points and eight assists against the Spurs.
Durant, who's also averaged 36.5 points in his last 15, began his 30-point streak after a relatively pedestrian performance Jan. 5 against Boston. He didn't make his first field goal until 17 1/2 minutes into the game but finished with 21 points and got to sit out the final period of a 119-96 rout.
Jackson scored a team-high 27 and shot 9 of 12 as Oklahoma City (33-10) won for the fifth time in six meetings with the Celtics (15-29).
Boston has dropped 15 of 18 but beat Washington 113-111 in overtime Wednesday. Jeff Green scored a season-high 39 points and Gerald Wallace made a tiebreaking layup with 2.5 seconds left in the extra period. Rookie guard Phil Pressey scored a career-high 20 in his second career start.
The Celtics played without guards Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley and Jerryd Bayless. Rondo was being rested in the second of back-to-back games after playing a season-high 26 minutes in a 93-86 loss at Miami on Tuesday.
Bradley is expected to miss the next two weeks with a sprained right ankle while Bayless is day-to-day with a sprained left big toe. Boston used four forwards and Pressey in the starting lineup Wednesday, and had two players under 10-day contracts - Vander Blue and Chris Johnson - coming off the bench.
"We don't have anything to lose," Wallace told the team's website. "Let's just go out and play loose, play together and kind of have fun in the game. I think that's what we did tonight, and it brought us closer together."
Rondo has missed the past two matchups with the Thunder after undergoing surgery for a torn right ACL, which he returned from in a 107-104 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday.
While Durant has averaged 29.5 points in his last eight games against Boston, he hasn't reached 30 in the past five.