The Oklahoma City Thunder have shown a vulnerability away from home in the past three weeks, but they will face one of the least taxing road tests when they visit the reeling Charlotte Bobcats on Friday night. Oklahoma City eked out a one-point win Thursday at the New York Knicks, who were playing without Carmelo Anthony, the league's second-leading scorer. The Thunder have won three straight overall but are only 2-3 in their last five road games - with the margin of victory four points or fewer in the past four.
Home court has not been an advantage for Charlotte, which has lost eight straight overall and 21 of its last 23 home games. The Bobcats' offensive woes were magnified in Wednesday's home loss to Brooklyn, when they managed only 25 second-half points to turn a 10-point halftime lead into a 21-point defeat. Things don't figure to get any easier after Charlotte learned that reserve guard Ramon Sessions will miss two to four weeks with a sprained left knee.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, Fox Sports Oklahoma, SportSouth (Charlotte)
ABOUT THE THUNDER (45-16): Oklahoma City has won six of seven and is within 2 1/2 games of the San Antonio Spurs for the top seed in the Western Conference. The Thunder will be hard-pressed to avoid a letdown after having won four straight against the Bobcats by an average of 26.8 points and handing Charlotte its worst loss in franchise history with a 114-69 drubbing in Oklahoma City on Nov. 26. Kevin Durant, who scored 34 points against the Knicks, is averaging 23.5 points in 10 games against Charlotte.
ABOUT THE BOBCATS (13-48): Sessions has been one of the few bright spots in a dismal season for Charlotte, coming off the bench to average 14.4 points - second on the team. That could lead to more playing time for disgruntled reserve guard Ben Gordon, who had 16 points in the loss to Brooklyn. A former No. 3 overall pick, Gordon is capable of scoring in bunches but has fallen out of favor with the Bobcats, who couldn't find a taker for him at the trade deadline.
1. Although the Thunder won their game in Charlotte, they had lost in their three previous visits dating to Durant's rookie season.
2. Charlotte has been held to 83 points or fewer in three of its last four games.
3. The Bobcats are 6-43 since opening the season with seven wins in their first 12 games.
PREDICTION: Thunder 101, Bobcats 91.