Despite his status as one of the league's most prolific scorers, Kevin Durant has never enjoyed a stretch like this.
Durant will look to help the visiting Oklahoma City Thunder win a fifth straight game while beating the San Antonio Spurs for the third time this season Wednesday night in a matchup of the Western Conference's top teams.
Durant, a three-time NBA scoring champion who leads the league with 30.9 points per game, has been on a tear - even by his lofty standards. He's averaging 39.3 points during a career-best eight-game streak of scoring at least 30, including a 46-point effort to lead Oklahoma City (32-10) past Portland 105-97 on Tuesday.
"What can you say? The guy just brings everything he has to the floor every single night," coach Scott Brooks said of Durant, who has the top four scoring games in the league this season.
Durant has three games of 40 or more points during his streak and put up an NBA season-high and career-best 54 in a win over Golden State on Friday. He's shooting 67.6 percent from the field and has hit 14 of 21 from 3-point range over his last three.
Reggie Jackson added 15 points for the Thunder, who overcame an 11-point deficit and improved to 9-5 since Russell Westbrook went down with a knee injury. Jackson has started each game in Westbrook's place.
Oklahoma City has won eight of its last 10 against San Antonio, including a six-game win in the 2012 West finals. Durant had 24 points and 13 rebounds in a 94-88 win Nov. 27, and Jackson finished with 21 points in a 113-100 victory Dec. 21.
San Antonio had won six straight regular-season home meetings with the Thunder before the loss last month.
"We know how tough it is to win there," Durant said. "We know how tough that team is. You've just got to come prepared and with a lot of energy. I think our group is ready to come out there and play our game, and we'll see what happens."
San Antonio (32-9) has been on a roll of its own, winning seven of eight after routing Milwaukee 110-82 on Sunday. Eight players played at least 20 minutes, as Tim Duncan finished with 11 points and 13 rebounds despite sitting the fourth quarter.
The Spurs played without Tony Parker due to a right shin contusion as well as Matt Bonner, who suffered a broken nose in Friday's loss to Portland. Tiago Splitter has missed the last seven with a shoulder sprain, and Danny Green is expected to be out roughly three more weeks because of a broken finger.
Parker's status for this contest is unclear, but Bonner is planning to play with a protective mask.
"We were missing a lot of guys so that was a little worrying, but overall I think we did a good job," Manu Ginobili said. "Everybody got to play and everybody played well. Guys made shots and it's a good feeling."
Ginobili missed all three of his shots and scored one point, but the rest of the reserves picked up the slack. Patty Mills had a team-high 20 points, while Jeff Ayres scored a season-high 13.
Coach Gregg Popovich believes his team has room for improvement, though, especially with the Thunder visiting.
"Coaches are sick puppies," Popovich said. "There's always things you can improve and do better. You look at the film, try to keep your standard and get ready for playoffs."
The winner of this contest will have the West's best record.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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