After coming up short against one of the NBA's bottom feeders, the Los Angeles Lakers are on the brink of the longest home losing streak in team history.
Avoiding that dubious mark could prove difficult with the Western Conference's best team coming to town.
Kevin Durant and the surging Oklahoma City Thunder try to hand the Lakers a seventh consecutive loss at Staples Center before heading into the All-Star break.
Injury-plagued Los Angeles (18-34) has dropped 21 of 26, including six in a row on its own court after falling 96-79 to last-place Utah on Tuesday. The Lakers haven't suffered seven straight home defeats in a season since moving to Los Angeles in 1960.
"We just have to get through this period and get guys back after the All-Star break," said coach Mike D'Antoni, who has used 26 different starting lineups this season. "We'll have three or four guys back then, and that will help."
Los Angeles continues to play without five of its top six scorers in Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Nick Young, Jodie Meeks and Xavier Henry. Jordan Farmar has also missed 19 of the last 20 games, and Steve Nash could be sidelined yet again after exiting against the Jazz due to lingering discomfort in his leg and back.
Nash, the oldest player in the NBA at 40, has played in just 10 games this season due to injury.
"It's frustrating," said center Chris Kaman, who has a combined 52 points and 24 rebounds in the last two games. "A lot of our guys are just trying to figure out where they're supposed to be and what they're supposed to be doing, because we've had so many guys hurt and then come back."
Things aren't about to get any easier against the Thunder (42-12), who have taken seven of nine in this regular-season series while averaging 110.9 points. Oklahoma City handily won the first matchup of the season 122-97 on Dec. 13 behind 31 points from Durant.
Durant has been on a tear over the last 21 games, averaging 35.2 points and 53.3 percent shooting. After scoring 41 in Sunday's 112-100 win over New York, Durant put up 36 to go along with 10 rebounds in a 98-95 victory at Portland on Tuesday.
Reserve Jeremy Lamb scored 19 and Reggie Jackson added 17 as Oklahoma City erased an early 13-point deficit.
"We fought hard," Durant told the team's official website. "We're a resilient team. We don't only play hard when we're winning. We're not only happy when we're winning. We keep our heads up through adversity and through tough times. That's just how we are as an organization."
The Thunder shot 48.2 percent and went 7 of 14 from 3-point range.
"It was a physical game, but I like the fact that we kept competing and didn't let anything bother us," said coach Scott Brooks, whose team has won 14 of 16. "We just competed, possession by possession. And that's what good teams do."
The Thunder are 24-2 when Jackson, averaging 13.6 points, scores at least 14. He finished with 19 in the December win over the Lakers.
Durant has averaged 37.3 points during his last three regular-season road games in the series.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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