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Thunder-Pistons Preview

The Associated Press

With star point guard Russell Westbrook looking like his usual self, the Oklahoma City Thunder are hoping to extend their promising start to this season.

A visit to Detroit seems like it could help.

The Thunder seek a ninth consecutive win over the Pistons on Friday night.

Westbrook showed a little rust in his return from two off-season knee surgeries Sunday by missing 11 of 16 shots against Phoenix, but he finished with 21 points in a 103-96 victory. Although he turned the ball over five times Wednesday against Dallas, Westbrook looked much more comfortable with his shot, hitting 10 of 20 to score 22 in a 107-93 victory.

"It's what we expect," coach Scott Brooks said. "That's who he is. He's an aggressive player. He's a talented player that has improved every year.

"This is the guy that we all knew what he was going to do when he came back."

Kevin Durant led the way with 23 points and 10 assists as Oklahoma City (3-1) shot 54.4 percent and scored 27 points in transition.

The Thunder haven't lost to Detroit (2-2) since Dec. 26, 2008, but their last two games at the Palace of Auburn Hills have been decided by a combined three points.

Westbrook had 33 points and Durant scored seven of his 26 points in the final 3:03 to help Oklahoma City pull out a 92-90 victory at Detroit on Nov. 12 in the last meeting between these teams.

The Pistons have alternated wins and losses in their first four games this season.

Detroit shot a season-low 37.9 percent and missed 20 of 25 attempts from 3-point range in a 99-91 loss to Indiana on Tuesday. The Pistons allowed the Pacers to shot 52.1 percent - including 9 of 21 from beyond the arc - and fell behind by as much as 19.

In his first start since being acquired in a trade in the offseason, Brandon Jennings scored a team-best 17 points but missed 14 of 20 shots and had four turnovers. He missed the first two games of the season while recovering from an impacted wisdom tooth and a hairline fracture of his jaw.

One of Detroit's other notable additions, Josh Smith, had 16 points but missed 11 of 16 shots and five of his six from 3-point range.

"We're still getting to know each other. That's important, but we still have to do a better job than we did," said Smith, who also had four turnovers and no assists.

Smith, whose average of 4.8 turnovers per game is among the worst in the league, is averaging 20.3 points on 52.3 percent shooting and 9.0 rebounds in his last six games against the Thunder.

Jennings, meanwhile, has shot 34.7 percent in his career against Oklahoma City - his worst mark against any team - but he's managed to average a respectable 15.1 points in those seven games.

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