Thunder could get a boost vs. Suns

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Oklahoma City Thunder hope to have Kevin Durant back in the lineup Wednesday when they welcome the Phoenix Suns to Chesapeake Energy Arena.

Durant, the reigning MVP, has missed the last six games with an ankle injury, but he was a full participant at Monday's practice. He followed with another full session on Tuesday, so there's a good chance he could be back in action on Wednesday.

The Thunder, who went 3-3 in Durant's recent absence, had a two-game winning streak snapped on Sunday thanks to a 112-107 road loss to the Dallas Mavericks.

Serge Ibaka paced the Thunder with a season-high 26 points to go along with 10 rebounds. Reggie Jackson deposited 21 points and Russell Westbrook added 18 despite shooting 6-of-23 from the floor.

"We just have to get better. Give both teams credit. Both teams competed and both left everything out on the floor," said Thunder coach Scott Brooks.

OKC had a 60-40 edge in the paint and outrebounded the Mavs, 53-37.

With Durant and Westbrook both missing so much time this season, the Thunder face an uphill battle toward making the postseason. One of the teams ahead of them at the moment, and a team that figures to be a major obstacle to the Thunder making the playoffs, is the Suns.

The Suns put some separation between themselves and Oklahoma City thanks to a recent six-game winning streak. That great run came to an end on Tuesday with a 110-106 road loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, another team that looks poised to be in the mix for the eighth seed in the ultra-loaded Western Conference.

Goran Dragic paced the Suns with 22 points, Eric Bledsoe tallied 21 points with eight assists and Gerald Green scored 17 off the bench. Markieff Morris added 13 points for Phoenix.

The Suns couldn't contend with New Orleans' Tyreke Evans, especially late. He scored six points in the last 1:32 to give the Pelicans the victory.

Phoenix had a rough night inside. The Suns allowed 58 points in the paint and were out-rebounded, 49-38. Phoenix surrendered 13 offensive rebounds to the Pelicans.

Oklahoma City prevailed by 24 at home on Dec. 14 and that stemmed a two-game series winning streak for the Suns. However, the Thunder have won 12 of the last 14 meetings and seven straight as the host versus Phoenix.