The Oklahoma City Thunder have their sights set on beginning a new home winning streak, while the road-weary Philadelphia 76ers likely are relieved their trip is nearing its end.
Oklahoma City seeks its eighth straight win in the series Friday night against Philadelphia, which hopes to avoid a 10th loss in its last 12 road contests.
The Thunder's 12-game home run came to a frustrating end Wednesday, when Kevin Durant was ejected for the first time in his career during a 110-93 loss to Brooklyn.
Durant became visibly frustrated with referee Danny Crawford and was tossed with less than two minutes remaining after scoring 27 points for Oklahoma City (24-7), which entered the game averaging 108.2 points at home.
"You get frustrated throughout a game, you show emotion. That's how you can tell you love it,' Durant said.
He said he didn't love the team's defense that fell one point short of matching its season worst for points allowed. It also marked only the second time the Thunder allowed an opponent to shoot at least 50.0 percent.
"It's a fine line (between) winning and losing, and it takes commitment on both ends of the floor to be a good team," coach Scott Brooks said. "We are a good basketball team and we will focus on the next game like we've always done."
Oklahoma City has seemed quite prepared for Philadelphia during its winning streak in the series and pulled out a 116-109 overtime victory Nov. 24 behind 37 points from Durant and 30 from Russell Westbrook.
Durant is averaging 30.7 points over his last six versus the 76ers while Westbrook has averaged 27.5 during his last four against a Philadelphia team that is 2-4 on its current eight-game road trip.
The 76ers (15-18) scored fewer than 90 points for the third time in four contests and fell 95-89 at Phoenix on Wednesday despite Jrue Holiday's second-career triple-double (16 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists).
Philadelphia, which has dropped three straight in Oklahoma City, concludes its trip Saturday at San Antonio.
"We know OKC and San Antonio are two good teams, but we've got to worry about the next one and that's OKC," Holiday said. "The last time we played them it came down to overtime, so we'll be ready."
Holiday shot only 3 for 11 and scored a season-low six points in that contest, but he did have 13 assists. He has 10 assists in three of his last four games and ranks near the top of the league at 9.0 per game, but he also is averaging an NBA-worst 3.8 turnovers after committing six Wednesday.
"We're a team that sort of depends on everybody, but we ride Jrue so much," coach Doug Collins said. "Even if he gets a little bit off, we just count on him to do so much for us."
Philadelphia has lost nine of 12 overall and is among the league's worst teams in scoring at 93.3 points per game. That is partly due to its notoriously slow starts, averaging 22.8 points in the first quarter to rank near the bottom of the league.
"The inconsistency just comes back to haunt us every night," Collins said.
Thaddeus Young had a season-best 29 points and added a career-high 15 rebounds in the first meeting with the Thunder - the second in the last three matchups that has been decided in overtime.
The Associated Press News Service
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