By Randy Renner
Anytime a basketball player can put his name in the record book alongside Michael Jordan's it's big time and that's exactly what Thunder superstar Kevin Durant can do tonight.
Durant can tie Jordan's modern day record streak of 40 straight games scoring at least 25 points tonight in Houston against the Rockets.
"That's a lot of games to be scoring 25 points in a row," point guard Russell Westbrook said last night.
Durant has not been held under 25 in a game since scoring 21 versus Boston on January 5th. "You can't just not think about that. That's an unbelievable stat. I think he may just finish the season doing that. He does that in his sleep," Westbrook added.
Not only is their star player scoring, but the Thunder (55-19) keep winning. On Thursday, they defeated San Antonio 106-94, snapping the Spurs' winning streak at 19 games and sweeping the season series 4-0.
The Thunder have now won seven of their last eight and nine of their last 11 and have climbed back to three games behind San Antonio in the standings but just two down in the loss column. Since the Thunder own the tie breaker they don't have to pass the Spurs, just catch them to grab that #1 seed.
Durant has saved some of his best performances this season for the Rockets, averaging 37.0 points on 51.7 percent shooting, with Oklahoma City winning all three games.
Since the Thunder dealt James Harden to Houston prior to the 2012-13 season, Oklahoma City has won nine of 12 between the teams and ousted Houston in six games in the first round of last season's playoffs.
Houston (49-25) has lost its last three games, matching a season high. The string of defeats has coincided with the absence of starters Dwight Howard (ankle) and Patrick Beverley (knee).
"(Missing two starters) definitely changes things. Guys are not used to playing that many minutes and being asked to make that many plays," said Harden, who is 20 for 49 from the field but averaging 28.0 points in the three losses following Wednesday's 107-103 defeat at Toronto. "It's tough but like I said, we have to figure out a way to get through it. All the good teams have had their struggles. Ours is coming late in the season and we've got to figure it out."
Beverley is definitely out tonight, Howard's status isn't clear at the moment.
The Thunder will sit Westbrook tonight, maintaining their ban on him playing both nights of back-to-backs. Kendrick Perkins, who made his return to the lineup last night, will be out again tonight. Perkins also will not be playing in both games of back-to-back sets.
Thunder forward Nick Collison was accidentally elbowed in the head last night and head to have the gash that opened up stapled shut. He left the court last bleeding from the wound but is not seriously hurt.
Collison however may be held out of tonight's game to give that gash a little time to heal.
With a win tonight, or a Portland loss, the Thunder can clinch their fourth straight Northwest Division title.
Tipoff tonight will be approximately 8:40, it's the second game of a national TV double header on ESPN. You can also see the game on Fox Sports Oklahoma.