The Thunder plays just two games in an eight-day span, and they come back-to-back at Houston on Wednesday, followed by a home game against Orlando on Thursday.
Thunder coach Scott Brooks likes this week for the same reason any coach would — more practice time.
“Any time you can get good practice time in the middle of the season is great,” Brooks said after Monday's session.
Although Wednesday will mark the fourth (and final) time this season the Thunder plays Houston and OKC has yet to face Orlando, Brooks said preparation will center on the Rockets.
“It's all on Houston, then we'll worry about Orlando the next morning,” Brooks said of the 25-12 Magic, which has won nine straight games. “They're playing as well as anybody. They've got a lot of good players.”
Orlando also is playing back-to-back this week, with a game Wednesday at New Orleans before facing the Thunder.
A HOUSTON PROBLEM
The Sonics/Thunder franchise has lost 11 straight games in Houston. “Really? I didn't know that,” Brooks said.
In the Thunder's 99-98 loss at the Toyota Center earlier this season, Kevin Durant missed a potential game-winning 20-footer at the buzzer.
If Durant takes a game-winning shot Wednesday, chances are good he'll be on the mark. He is shooting 55.9 percent and averaging 30.2 points his last 10 games.
Durant's 40-point game against Memphis last Saturday marked the 14th time in his career he has reached the 40-point plateau.
Since 1985, Durant is one of only four players — Shaquille O'Neal (21), LeBron James (17) and Allen Iverson (16) — to register 14 games of 40 or more points in their first four years.
NO HAT TRICK
Only five NBA teams have not lost three straight games this season.
Two are in the Northwest Division in the Thunder and Utah (both 25-13). The others are San Antonio (31-6), Boston (28-8) and Chicago (24-12).
Dallas (26-10) has lost five of its last seven, all without Dirk Nowitzki (knee), and the Los Angeles Lakers (27-11) have had a four-game losing streak and three-game losing streak.
The Thunder played 17 home games in November and December, but play just nine home games from now until March 2. … In the last three games, Thunder opponents have shot a combined 53.7 percent in the first half and 39.2 percent in the second half.
“It's still a bad situation. It's not really improving, but people are still helping. Hopefully the money that's sent is going in the right direction and to the right people.” — Thunder center Nenad Krstic, on the continuing relief effort from the 5.3 magnitude earthquake that struck his hometown of Kraljevo, Serbia, in early November.