Thunder-Pelicans Preview

After an impressive accomplishment no team had achieved in quite some time, Anthony Davis and the surging New Orleans Pelicans have a chance to do it again this week.

That could become an easier task if Kevin Durant isn't available.

If the Pelicans win both ends of this home-and-home set which begins Wednesday night in New Orleans, they will become the first Western Conference team to sweep a season series from the Oklahoma City Thunder in four years.

The Pelicans (26-22) have won six of seven, with the most notable victory coming Monday as they snapped Atlanta's franchise-record winning streak at 19 games with a 115-100 victory. Davis returned after missing one game with a groin strain to finish with 29 points and 13 rebounds for New Orleans, which never trailed after the first quarter against a Hawks team which hadn't lost since Dec. 26.

"We just need to continue to do what we've been doing," Davis said. "The past couple games, we've been rebounding, defending, sharing the ball. We don't care who scores. That's what we have to do."

Eric Gordon added 20 points and seven assists, Tyreke Evans scored 15 and tied a season high with 12 assists, and New Orleans moved four games above .500 for the first time since finishing 46-36 in 2010-11.

That's also the last season in which any team swept a series of more than two games against the Thunder (24-24). San Antonio went 3-0 against them.

The Pelicans have won both meetings this season and three straight overall against Oklahoma City. Durant sat out a 101-99 home loss Dec. 21 in the last matchup, and it's unclear if he will return for this game or Friday's meeting in Oklahoma.

Durant has missed three of the past four games due to a sprained big toe on his left foot. The Thunder have gone 10-16 without the reigning MVP.

While New Orleans closes a six-game homestand which has also included wins over Dallas and the Clippers, Oklahoma City looks to halt a four-game road losing streak during which it has averaged 89.3 points on 39.0 percent shooting.

The Thunder had dropped four of five overall until pulling out a 104-97 home win over Orlando on Monday. Russell Westbrook posted his second triple-double of the season with 25 points, 14 assists and 11 rebounds.

"For us to win, my job is to be able to make sure everybody is getting the ball and make sure everybody is in the position to score, and that was one of those nights," Westbrook said.

Dion Waiters had 24 points starting in place of Durant, and Serge Ibaka chipped in 16. Ibaka, though, has shot 35.5 percent in his last five on the road while missing 15 of 21 from beyond the arc. He's also had a combined 12 points on 5-of-19 shooting from the field in the two meetings with the Pelicans.

Westbrook totaled 50 points in those defeats but shot 34.0 percent and committed 13 turnovers. Jrue Holiday keyed those two wins for New Orleans with 25 assists but remains out with a leg injury.

Davis, scoring 28.0 per game in his last eight, has averaged 31.5 points and 11.0 rebounds in the season series.

He could help the Pelicans to a big advantage on the glass. They have a plus-14.0 rebounding margin in their last four games, while the Thunder own a minus-5.0 mark over their past six.


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