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12-22

Thunder-Raptors Preview

The Associated Press

No team has played fewer road games than the NBA-leading Oklahoma City Thunder.

That, however, is about to change.

The Thunder kick off a road-heavy stretch Sunday against a Toronto Raptors team seeking a fifth win in six home matchups in this series.

After going 17-3 on their own court, Oklahoma City (25-7) knows things likely will be more difficult as it gets ready to play 11 of its next 13 in opposing arenas.

"It's a good test for us to see where we're at. The road is always tough, no matter who you're playing," Kevin Durant said. "We've got to come out there and try to do a good job. We're looking forward to it."

The Thunder have only played 12 road games, going 8-4 while averaging 102.5 points - 5.0 less than their mark at home.

"We all play the same number in the end, so it evens out," Durant told the league's official website. "So it's just our turn. It's a challenge.

"We know that it's hard to win on the road and takes a different and higher level of concentration and effort. But with the team that we have now, full of veteran players, and the things that we've been through together and accomplished, it's not something that we fear or worry about."

The Thunder didn't have much cause for concern Friday against Philadelphia. Oklahoma City shot 52.0 percent and outscored the 76ers 63-43 in the second half of an easy 109-85 win, getting back on track following a 110-93 defeat to Brooklyn two nights earlier.

"It was much better," forward Nick Collison said. "We were fighting over screens and contesting shots. It was great. It was exactly what we needed after the last game. We will have to do it again next time we play."

Durant and Russell Westbrook combined for 53 points while Kevin Martin scored 16. Serge Ibaka added 15 points and 10 boards.

"Now we expect it from him," Durant said of Ibaka, who's averaging career highs of 14.3 points and 8.5 rebounds "When he has a double-double, it's not like, 'Breaking news: Serge had a double-double!' It's normal for him now. He's playing well for us, and we're going to need that from him all season."

Ibaka scored 17 on 8-of-9 shooting as Oklahoma City blew by Toronto 108-88 on Nov. 6. While the Thunder have won 10 of 12 in this series at home, they've yielded 109.2 points per game in dropping four of five at Air Canada Centre. Their last visit, however, came in December 2010.

Though a trip to Toronto (12-21) wouldn't appear daunting, the last-place Raptors have more than held their own over the last three weeks. Toronto entered Friday having won eight of nine before a 105-96 loss to Sacramento.

Kyle Lowry had 24 points and Alan Anderson scored 20 for the Raptors, who went 30 for 79 from the field (38.0 percent) and allowed the Kings to shoot 52.6 percent.

"A loss always makes you understand what you have to work on," said DeMar DeRozan, who had 14 points on 3-of-11 shooting after averaging 25.0 over his previous three games. "Tonight just wasn't our night on both ends."

Toronto was outscored 52-32 in the paint Friday and dropped to 0-15 when allowing at least 100 points.

Coach Dwane Casey, though, was quick to dismiss the notion that his team was looking ahead to Sunday's showdown.

"We have no right to look forward to anybody," he said. "We've gotta work and play like a desperate team each and every night."

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