NBA

Nuggets-Thunder Preview

Kevin Durant had one of his finest performances of the season in the Oklahoma City Thunder's win over the scuffling Denver Nuggets earlier this month.

The star forward, however, will be unavailable for Sunday night's rematch after another foot procedure as the Thunder go for a sixth consecutive win.

Durant scored 40 points - four shy of matching a season high - on 13-of-19 shooting and tied a career best with seven 3-pointers in a 124-114 victory in Denver on Feb. 9. He was forced to sit out Saturday because of soreness in his surgically repaired right foot, and the team announced Sunday that he had a screw replaced to alleviate the pain.

The Thunder expect Durant to return during the regular season, and general manager Sam Presti said he will be evaluated again within a week. Durant has played in just 27 games this season because of the broken foot, a sprained right ankle and sprained left big toe.

They are also without starting center Steven Adams (hand) for at least another week.

"Once we get everybody healthy and rolling we are going to be tough to beat," point guard Russell Westbrook said. "For now, we have to come in every night and take care of business."

Westbrook had 33 points and 10 assists in Durant's absence Saturday and Oklahoma City (30-25) claimed a 110-103 win in Charlotte. Enes Kanter contributed 10 points and 13 rebounds in his first game with the Thunder since being acquired from Utah on Thursday in a three-team deal.

Oklahoma City will try to send Denver (20-34) to its 15th loss in 17 games. The Nuggets fell 89-81 in Milwaukee on Friday in their return from the All-Star break.

They played without leading scorer Ty Lawson, who was scratched after missing practice during the break. Denver was further short-handed after trading second-leading scorer Arron Afflalo and Alonzo Gee to Portland, then sending JaVale McGee to Philadelphia on Thursday.

Forwards Thomas Robinson and Victor Claver, two of the players acquired in the deal with the Trail Blazers, were inactive Friday and waived Sunday.

"There are no excuses. I thought we went flat at the wrong time," coach Brian Shaw said. "I told our guys, 'Some of us have to do better than we're doing right now.' That's really what it comes down to."

Denver is averaging 94.9 points and shooting 41.5 percent in its last 16 games after averaging 106.8 points and shooting 47.1 percent in its nine preceding contests.

The Thunder are averaging 111.6 points and shooting 47.8 percent while going 7-1 this month.

Oklahoma City has also won 10 of 11 at home, while Denver has dropped eight of 10 on the road.

The Thunder have taken 10 of the last 12 home matchups with Denver, including the playoffs, and each of the past three. Durant and Westbrook were out in a 102-91 win over the Nuggets in Oklahoma City on Nov. 1.

Serge Ibaka had 23 points in that one and scored 22 in a 107-100 loss in Denver on Nov. 19 in which the Thunder's two stars were also missing. He had seven in the win earlier this month.

Westbrook is averaging 31.4 points in his last five matchups in Oklahoma City and a league-best 31.8 in eight games this month.

Lawson is averaging 21.8 points and shooting 56.3 percent in his last four games against the Thunder. He had 22 on 8-of-12 shooting in the loss earlier this month.

Wilson Chandler scored a team-best 23, giving him a combined 44 in the past two meetings.

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