Regular Season Game #6
Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder opened a four-game stretch against Central Division opponents with a comeback victory.
There may not be a need for heroics in the next one.
Durant and the Thunder have won six straight against the visiting Detroit Pistons, who will likely be hard-pressed to avoid their worst start in 33 years Friday night.
Oklahoma City (3-2) trailed by six heading into the fourth quarter Thursday before rallying for a 97-91 victory at Chicago. Durant scored eight of his season-high 24 points in the fourth.
"It was one of those games you have to grind out," Durant said. "We've been through so many. We know what it takes."
There is some concern since Durant is averaging a league-worst 5.2 turnovers, committing six of Oklahoma City's season-high 22 against the Bulls. He's a big reason why the Thunder are averaging 18.4 turnovers for one of the NBA's poorest marks.
"Obviously we don't want to have high turnovers," coach Scott Brooks said. "It's something that has plagued us throughout this early part of our season. But it's something we're going to keep working on."
Detroit (0-5), meanwhile, has much more to work on as one of two remaining winless teams. The Pistons haven't dropped their first six games since the 1979-80 team began 0-7.
Opponents are shooting 47.4 percent against Detroit for the sixth-worst mark in the NBA. The Pistons allowed Sacramento to shoot 48.8 percent in Wednesday's 105-103 road defeat.
"Until we have a defensive mindset, it's going to be very hard for us to win," coach Lawrence Frank said. "We have to commit. Every guy that steps on the floor has to defend. It's a simple formula, but hard to do."
The loss overshadowed a terrific effort from Greg Monroe, who had 21 points, 12 rebounds and a career-high 11 assists. It was Monroe's first triple-double and the first by a Piston since Chauncey Billups did it against Minnesota on Feb. 20, 2004.
The Pistons are looking for answers from their starting backcourt. Brandon Knight is averaging 10.8 points and shooting 35.3 percent but that's better than Rodney Stuckey's career-low figures of 6.4 points per game and 17.4 shooting.
Detroit is also the worst rebounding team in the league at 35.2 per game.
This will be Knight's second matchup with Russell Westbrook, who outscored him 24-13 in a 99-79 rout last season. Westbrook had his first double-double of the season Thursday with 16 points and 12 assists.
"Russell's 12 assists, I think he only had two turnovers, I think he had just an all-around great game," Brooks said.
Serge Ibaka has increased his scoring output in every game this season with 21 points and nine boards in Chicago.
"Serge is a good player, he's not only a defensive guy, but he can score," Brooks said. "He can score around the basket and he can score around the perimeter."
The Pistons had won eight straight in this series before this slide. They have dropped their four visits to Oklahoma City by an average of 12.8 points.
The Thunder close this stretch versus the Central with Monday's rematch in Detroit.