Pistons at Thunder Game Preview - Jan. 23, 2012
The Oklahoma City Thunder got back to their defensive ways following a loss to the league's worst team.
That could be bad news for the low-scoring Detroit Pistons.
The Western Conference-leading Thunder go for their sixth consecutive victory in this series on Monday night when the Pistons try to end a 14-game road losing streak to West opponents.
Coming off a 105-102 loss to Washington on Wednesday in its worst defensive performance of the season, Oklahoma City (13-3) capped off a 2-1 trip with Saturday's 84-74 victory over New Jersey.
It didn't matter that the Thunder posted their lowest scoring game of the season, as they recorded 10 blocks and held the Nets to 31.0 percent from the field.
It was the franchise's best effort since the Seattle SuperSonics limited Miami to 30.2 percent shooting in a 100-71 victory on Dec. 7, 2002.
"Defense is an ingredient in everything for us," said Kevin Durant, who finished with 20 points, a season-best 15 rebounds and two steals. "We got out with steals (eight) and got some fastbreak points. Guys played together tonight and that's what we need for us to win."
The Thunder, who are 6-1 at home, are looking to match the team's best start since the SuperSonics opened 14-3 in 2004-05.
Since relocating from Seattle in 2008, Oklahoma City has won all three times the Pistons have come to town.
Detroit (4-13) lost 104-94 on March 11 in its last visit, and the team hasn't won on the road against a West foe since a 100-94 victory over Sacramento on Nov. 14, 2010.
The Pistons, though, enter this matchup with some much-needed confidence after ending their four-game skid Saturday with a 94-91 win over Portland.
Replacing the injured Ben Gordon (shoulder) in the starting lineup, Rodney Stuckey returned from a one-game absence with a groin injury to post season highs with four 3-pointers and 28 points.
Rookie Brandon Knight added 14 as the Pistons committed just 13 turnovers. They gave the ball away a season-high 25 times the night before in a 98-81 loss to Memphis.
"When we take care of the ball, that's definitely a plus for us," Knight, who is averaging a team-high 3.2 turnovers, told the Pistons' official website.
Gordon has also struggled with turnovers - committing 3.1 per game - but the Pistons could use his offense (14.3 points per game) and 3-point shooting (20 for 44) as they are averaging just 85.3 points.
The Thunder are scoring 103.1 points per game on 50.3 percent shooting at home.
Durant scored 24 points in Detroit's last visit, and he's averaging 27.6 during the winning streak in this series.
Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook is scoring 11.8 points per game with 8.6 assists and 4.0 boards during that stretch in which Oklahoma City has not won by more than 11.
Detroit won the previous eight times these teams met.
Pistons center Greg Monroe had 14 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in last season's loss in Oklahoma City after not playing in a 105-104 home loss to the Thunder on Oct. 29, 2010.
Kendrick Perkins will face the Pistons for the first time in a Thunder uniform after missing the March 11 matchup with a sprained left knee.
Perkins and Serge Ibaka, who recorded a season-best five blocks Saturday, are the only teammates in the NBA with at least one block in each game.