OAKLAND, Calif. — The Oklahoma City Thunder will seek to end a losing streak while the Golden State Warriors attempt to extend two impressive runs of their own when the Western Conference rivals meet Tuesday night.
The matchup will be the fifth since Kevin Durant left the Thunder after nine seasons to accept a free-agent offer from the Warriors in the summer of 2016.
Durant averaged 37.7 points in three straight wins over the Thunder last season, but then just 21 when the Warriors lost 108-91 at Oklahoma City in November.
Tuesday’s head-to-head is the first since then. The Warriors have gone 6-0 this season when facing a team for the first time after losing the previous meeting.
Golden State also has gone 11-0 in the game following a defeat this year. The Warriors are coming off a 115-108 loss at Denver on Saturday night.
The Thunder also is coming off a loss. Four straight, in fact.
They fell 108-104 at home to the Los Angeles Lakers in a Super Bowl Sunday matchup, following losses to Washington, Denver and New Orleans in the previous five days.
Thunder star Russell Westbrook insisted after Sunday’s game that his club can learn from its recent run of misfortune.
“Adversity is great,” he claimed. “Me personally, I love adversity. It gives you an opportunity to bring your teammates together, bring everybody together and look forward to positive things.
“Throughout the season, there’s going to be a lot of ups and downs, but we never flinch. That’s one thing about this organization, about our team: We never flinch based on what’s going on. We always stay together.”
Westbrook has had his ups and down against the Warriors, losing seven straight meetings before contributing 34 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists to the win earlier this season.
He’s recorded two career triple-doubles against the Warriors, including one with 27 points, 15 rebounds and 13 assists last January. But he’s also been harassed into 10 or more turnovers twice in the last four meetings.
Turnovers have been an issue for the Warriors this season. They had 25, one off their season-high, while barely escaping the Sacramento Kings on Friday night, then watched Draymond Green throw away a pass with 58 seconds to go at Denver with Golden State desperately needing a hoop, trailing by four.
One year after considering it a point of emphasis following a season in which they committed the ninth-most turnovers in the league (14.8 per game), the Warriors have actually gotten more careless, now ranking fourth-worst in the league at 15.8 per game.
“It’s painfully obvious that our guys are mentally fried right now,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said shortly before the Warriors boarded a flight to Denver for an unenviable back-to-back. “It’s our job just to get a win and move on.”
While the Thunder will be opening a three-day, two-game California stretch on Tuesday, the Warriors will be tipping off a week-long, four-game homestand that includes visits from the Dallas Mavericks, San Antonio Spurs and Phoenix Suns.