Published November 20, 2014
The Oklahoma City Thunder don't take too kindly to losing.
The defending Western Conference champions try to avoid dropping back-to-back contests for the first time this season on Friday night as they visit the New Orleans Hornets.
The Thunder lost for just the third time in nine games on Wednesday to start the campaign, falling 107-97 to the streaking Memphis Grizzlies. The setback snapped a five-game winning streak by Oklahoma City.
The Thunder led by 10 points after the first quarter, but were outscored 36-15 in the second frame and the poor period left head coach Scott Brooks dissatisfied.
"The second quarter when we were outscored by 21 points was tough to overcome," Brooks said. "We have to come back and figure out ways to improve like we've always done."
Kevin Durant had a season-high 34 points, shooting 12-of-21 while adding 10 rebounds. Russell Westbrook totaled 17 points and a season-best 13 assists, while Serge Ibaka posted 17 points and blocked four shots, giving him an NBA- leading 3.7 per game.
Durant and company have always responded well after a loss and look to continue that trend tonight. The Thunder have won both of their previous games this season following a setback and went 15-3 in games following defeat a season ago.
"We're about team. If you're about team, that's what you do. You're not about pointing fingers, not about playing the blame game. You're about trying to get better and that's how we build our team habits," Brooks said after practice on Thursday.
The Hornets had similar issues in their 100-96 loss to the Houston Rockets on Wednesday. New Orleans led by two following the first, but saw Houston explode for 39 points in the second and never led again despite getting to within two points with 1:49 to play.
"We're out there playing in the second quarter like were the Globetrotters or something," said Hornets head coach Monty Williams. "This team was trying to kick our butt and we have to have a mindset of playing a tough, nasty style of basketball and I just didn't see that in the second quarter."
Greivis Vasquez paced the Hornets with a career-high 24 points, while Ryan Anderson chipped in 20 points and 12 boards off the bench. Anthony Davis, coming off his first career double-double in a win over Charlotte last Friday, was limited to eight points and four boards in his first road test.
"Our energy wasn't there in the second quarter. We tried to come back and fought back but it was too late," Vasquez said after also notching nine assists and five rebounds.
The Thunder won all three meetings with the Hornets last season and have taken four straight and eight of the past nine in this series. They have also claimed a victory in three of their past four at New Orleans.