Durant, Thunder open second half in Houston

The Oklahoma City Thunder's march to the top seed in the Western Conference will commence Wednesday night when they visit the Houston Rockets.

The Thunder own the second-best record in the NBA, trailing the San Antonio Spurs by 2 1/2 games in the West. OKC is 6 1/2 ahead of the Denver Nuggets in the Northwest Division, but those aren't the goals of the Thunder.

After falling to the Miami Heat last season in the NBA Finals, it's championship or bust for Thunder.

"I'm looking forward to the second half, hoping it's a good one," said Kevin Durant, who scored 30 points in Sunday's All-Star Game.

Durant is enjoying an MVP-type season once again. The three-time scoring champ leads the NBA with 29.2 ppg and Russell Westbrook again joined Durant on the Western Conference All-Star team.

The Thunder struggled a bit heading into the break. They dropped two in a row, including a road loss in Utah to the Jazz and a disappointing home setback to the Heat on Thursday, 110-100.

"They jumped on us early and we were playing uphill the rest of the way," said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. "We kept fighting but it was just too late. They doubled every screen and made us take bad shots. We're not as bad as what we played tonight, but I was anticipating a much better game."

The Rockets didn't really receive much of an All-Star break, well the city of Houston didn't. As host for the 62nd All-Star Game, the Rockets were everywhere, including James Harden.

The first-time All Star was the Rockets' lone representative in the game, but Chandler Parsons took part in the Rising Stars Challenge and Jeremy Lin was in the Skills Challenge.

"It was a very special weekend, it being in Houston," Harden said after Sunday's game. "All the fun times, laughs, NBA Cares events, Saturday night festivities, all the appearances, meeting different people and then just the game tonight summed it up."

The Rockets lost two of three leading into the All-Star Game and both came on the road. The fell to the Sacramento Kings and Los Angeles Clippers, but snuck in a good away win over the Golden State Warriors.

Six of the next nine for the Rockets are away from the Toyota Center.

The Rockets are somewhat comfortable in the eighth position in the Western Conference. They own a three-game lead over the Portland Trail Blazers and sit 3 1/2 ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Thunder have won both matchups this season with Houston, one in OKC and one in Space City. Oklahoma City is 3-1 in its last four at Houston.