Thunder open tough stretch at Milwaukee

The journey ahead will be a challenging one for the Oklahoma City Thunder, who will close out a quick two-game road trip Saturday against the Milwaukee Bucks.

The next four games for the Thunder will be against playoff-hopeful teams in Milwaukee, San Antonio, Indiana and New York.

Oklahoma City had trouble with one of the NBA's worst on Friday, when it sustained a 101-93 defeat at Minnesota. Kevin Durant scored 36 points and Russell Westbrook had 18 points to go along with nine assists for the Thunder, who had won three in a row and six of eight games.

"You get up for every game...but tonight we ran into a team that just played better," Durant said. "It was just a little bump in the road."

The bump in the road dropped the Thunder 2 1/2 games behind the Spurs for the West's top seed. The Northwest-leading Thunder are 3 1/2 games ahead of the idle Denver Nuggets for division bragging rights.

Oklahoma City is 21-15 away from home and has lost two of three as the guest.

Milwaukee is in the eighth and final postseason spot in the East -- 2 1/2 games behind the Boston Celtics -- and will resume a four-game homestand Saturday night.

The Bucks ended a four-game slide with Thursday's 113-103 triumph over Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers as Larry Sanders led the way with a career- high 21 points and 13 rebounds. Ersan Ilyasova and Brandon Jennings scored 20 points apiece, while Monta Ellis registered 18 points, nine assists and seven boards.

Milwaukee rallied from 13 points down for the double-digit win. A 17-4 run in the fourth quarter propelled the Bucks to victory. They also forced 18 turnovers for 22 points.

"We came out and accepted the challenge, we needed a win bad," said Bucks forward Marquis Daniels, who had 16 points. "We came out with more intensity and more energy."

Milwaukee pushed its home mark to 19-17 and will also welcome Charlotte and Minnesota to the Bradley Center. In team notes, Sanders has pulled down 10 or more boards in nine of his last 10 contests. Ilyasova has scored in double figures in 23 of his last 28 games.

The Bucks have forced 15 or more turnovers in a game 47 times this season, an NBA best. They hope to maintain their tough defense in the season's first meeting with the Thunder, who won the only meeting in 2011-12.