Referring to the Thunder's next opponent as the New Orleans Pelicans might add a bit more intrigue to Wednesday's 7 p.m. contest at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Given what transpired in the season's first two meetings against the Thunder, the New Orleans franchise might want to move up its anticipated name change to Wednesday night rather than wait until the 2013-14 season just to have a fresh start against OKC.
Wednesday will mark the third time the Thunder (17-4) and Hornets (5-15) have played in the last 26 days.
OKC won the first two meetings by an average score of 105-87. The Thunder led by as many as 34 in the first game and 29 in the second. New Orleans' biggest lead was 2-0 at the outset of the second game. The Hornets never led in the first game.
OKC has shot 52.3 percent from the field and 46.7 percent from 3-point range, compared to 39.6 percent from the floor and 36.1 percent on 3-pointers for New Orleans. The Thunder also has averaged 8.5 steals, 9.5 blocks and 26.0 assists.
Three-time scoring champ Kevin Durant is shooting 64.0 percent from the field and 66.7 percent from 3-point range, Russell Westbrook is averaging 14.0 points, 11.0 assists and 2.0 steals, and sixth man Kevin Martin has averaged 23.0 points, shot 50.0 percent from the field and 90.0 percent from the line.
Be that as it may, “You always want to respect your opponent,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said Tuesday. “There's no question that's the No. 1 game plan every night. If you don't respect your opponent, you're not going to win in this league. … It's always a challenge. You have to prepare and you have to treat every game the same. That's what we do, no matter who we play, no matter what record they have. We still have to go out and play well to win (Wednesday).”
Updated odds to win the 2013 NBA championship, courtesy of Bovada:
19/10: Miami Heat
4/1: OKC Thunder
11/2: Los Angeles Lakers
9/1: San Antonio Spurs
10/1: Los Angeles Clippers
15/1: Memphis Grizzlies, New York Knicks
20/1: Chicago Bulls
25/1: Boston Celtics
A crew from “Jim Rome on Showtime” interviewed Durant on Tuesday. The show will air at 9 p.m. Wednesday. … Westbrook had his first extensive photo shoot Monday with Nike's Jordan Brand, the company he joined shortly before the season. … Since center Kendrick Perkins made his OKC debut on March 14, 2011, at Washington, the Thunder has a 76-27 record (.738) in games he has started. … OKC rookie forward Perry Jones III continues rehabilitate a sprained left ankle.
Brooks on New Orleans center Anthony Davis, who has battled an ankle injury this season: “They're a better team with him. He's one of the best players on their team. If he plays, he's a star in the making. He can do so many things at both ends of the floor.”