Thunder at Hornets
The Oklahoma City Thunder will try to snap an ugly three-game losing streak when they visit the surging Charlotte Hornets on Saturday. All three of the Thunder's defeats have been by at least 11 points, with Wednesday's 104-88 setback at Minnesota the most lopsided of the bunch.
"We've got to lock in and get a win," Thunder guard Russell Westbrook told reporters after recording 38 points and 10 rebounds in the loss. "That's all I can say." The Hornets won 116-103 at Oklahoma City last month but proceeded to lose five of their next six games. They've recovered to win five of the last eight, including Friday's 99-88 triumph over Utah in the second contest of their three-game homestand. Kemba Walker followed a 41-point performance in a loss to Dallas with 22 against the Jazz as Charlotte improved to 11-11 at home.
TV: 5 p.m. ET, FS Oklahoma, FS Southeast (Charlotte)
ABOUT THE THUNDER (22-20): Oklahoma City is a lackluster 9-8 against teams that currently are seven or more games below .500, a group that will include the Hornets on Saturday. "We were just going out there and playing, and when we got punched, it was like, 'Oh, we got punched. Let's punch back. Let's start fighting back,'" Carmelo Anthony told reporters. "A lot of times when you give teams - those types of teams - that confidence, it's hard to fight out of that hole, because you have to make all the right plays, make every shot, and we can't rely on that." Anthony is shooting 38 percent and has recorded just one assist over his last three games.
ABOUT THE HORNETS (16-24): Walker is averaging 24.8 points while making 39.5 percent of his 3-point attempts over his last five games, and he has made at least three 3-pointers in four consecutive home contests. Dwight Howard registered 13 rebounds and a blocked shot in Friday's win and recognized how critical the performance was, given the loss to Dallas at home two nights earlier. "I think our defense was really good in the fourth quarter," Howard told reporters. "Marvin (Williams) hit some big 3s, got a big cut to the basket and we got a good win. We needed it, especially after last game."
1. Howard is 9-for-28 from the free-throw line over his last two games.
2. Westbrook has recorded at least a double-double in 12 consecutive contests.
3. The Hornets have won three straight meetings.