Suns-Thunder Game Preview
Not many teams have been able to slow down the NBA's leading scorer. It appears an ankle injury won't limit Kevin Durant, either.
Two days after surprisingly taking the court to lead his team to victory, Durant looks to help the Oklahoma City Thunder prevent the Phoenix Suns from finishing their six-game trip with another win Sunday night.
Durant, averaging 28.4 points, scored 21 before spraining his ankle in the third quarter of a 113-89 victory over Indiana on Wednesday night.
He wasn't able to return and was listed as doubtful against Atlanta on Friday night, but battled through the injury to register 29 points, eight rebounds and five assists in a 111-104 road win.
"I just tried not to think about it. Mind over matter," said Durant, who played 40 minutes. "This game is mental, so if you think about being injured, you'll go out and play like you're injured.
"My adrenaline was pumping a little bit and my teammates got me going, so I was able to make some shots a little bit. I'm sure it's going to be tight and sore in the morning, but I'm just going to fight through it and get as much treatment as I can."
Oklahoma City (38-22) has taken three of five meetings versus Phoenix while Durant has averaged 32.2 points, but the Thunder have lost six of seven at home in the series and are facing a Suns team which has won five of six overall.
Phoenix (32-28) is hoping to close its trip with a fifth win in six games after beating Milwaukee 102-88 on Friday night thanks in part to 20 points from both Mickael Pietrus and Channing Frye.
"We've got a really tough game against Oklahoma City and we usually play those guys pretty good," coach Alvin Gentry said. "Obviously with Durant and (Russell) Westbrook they've got two of the best young players in the league.
"We'll go in there and we'll have to play extremely well to beat them. It's one of those games where we have an opportunity to have a real special trip."
The Suns won 113-110 in Oklahoma City on Dec. 19 behind Grant Hill's 30 points, but the Thunder won 111-107 at Phoenix on Feb. 4.
Westbrook, averaging 22.1 points, has been limited to 15.3 on 32.0 percent shooting in his last three matchups with the Suns but has totaled 30 assists over that span.
Gentry's team has recorded at least 100 points in a season-best nine consecutive games and continues to climb the Western Conference standings.
The Suns sat in 11th place in late January but have used a 12-4 run to move up to ninth, one-half game back of Memphis for the West's final playoff spot.
"We really want to make the playoffs. I don't want to be on vacation in April. It's so boring," Pietrus said. "I don't want to be watching on TV."
Steve Nash, averaging a team-best 16.1 points, has scored 8.6 per game on 30.8 percent shooting during this trip but has averaged 11.8 assists - he's second in the league with 11.3 per game.
Vince Carter was held out against the Bucks due to dizziness from a collision with Frye in Wednesday's loss at Boston, and his status for this game is unknown. Carter scored a season-high 33 points in the Feb. 4 loss to Oklahoma City.
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