Kevin Durant will not play tonight against New Orleans

by Jim Eichenhofer

OKLAHOMA CITY – Unlike on Dec. 2, when Kevin Durant returned from injury against New Orleans, the NBA’s reigning MVP will not be in uniform tonight when Oklahoma City hosts the Pelicans. Thunder Coach Scott Brooks announced during his pregame availability with the media Sunday that Durant (sprained right ankle) has been ruled out of the Western Conference matchup.

“He’s out. He’s definitely feeling better today,” Brooks pointed out. “He’s day-to-day; we don’t know how long (he will continue to be out). Every day we’ll evaluate it.”

Despite Durant making his season debut Dec. 2, the Pelicans posted a 112-104 victory over the Thunder. Durant showed no signs of his long layoff, scoring 27 points in 30 minutes of action.

Sunday’s game at Chesapeake Energy Arena is a key early-season matchup in the West, with New Orleans (13-13) needing to win to hold on to the eighth spot in the standings. Oklahoma City (13-14) would move ahead of the Pelicans if it prevails tonight. Phoenix (14-14) is also in the middle of a jammed race.

Other notes from pregame Sunday:

  • Monty Williams on bouncing back from Saturday’s loss to Portland: “Those are the games that keep you up late, and yet you have to get rid of it, because you know it can happen once or twice a year. It’s not characteristic of our team. Tonight we have a chance to redeem ourselves.”
  • Williams on facing OKC without Durant: “We’re focused on our team, as much as we can after last night. They have a number of good players on their team, Russell (Westbrook), (Serge) Ibaka, (Steven) Adams, (Anthony) Morrow scoring off the bench, (Jeremy) Lamb, (Andre) Roberson. They have enough to worry about. We have to get back to the way we played in the Houston game, and the week and a half we played that was really good.”

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