Learning Curve

After losing each of his first eight NBA games, Kevin Durant helped the Seattle SuperSonics to back-to-back victories, capped by the first game-winning shot of his career. On Saturday, the rookie struggled as the Sonics took a step backwards.

Durant and the Sonics look to rebound from another loss on Monday when they visit the Memphis Grizzlies in the finale of a five-game road trip.

Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Memphis –6 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for todays game, the over/under has been set at 218 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 85% of bets for this game have been placed on Memphis -6(View NBA Bet Percentages).

Seattle's 0-8 start was the worst in franchise history, but the Sonics (2-9) finally got a win by beating Miami on Wednesday. Then Durant made it consecutive victories when he sank a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to give Seattle a 126-123 double-overtime win at Atlanta on Friday night.

"This is what I live for," Durant said after that game. "I wouldn't have it any other way."

After setting a new season high point total in each of those games, however, the Sonics stumbled in a 100-84 loss at Charlotte on Saturday. They shot just 31.0 percent from the field - their lowest mark since shooting 29.4 percent against Milwaukee on Feb. 27, 2005.

"We have to compete more," Sonics coach P.J. Carlesimo said. "We have too many (guys) getting the ball ripped out of our hands. Other guys aren't doing a good job finding the open man during the fast break. We have to be mentally tougher than we were tonight."

Durant was part of the problem in the loss as the No. 2 overall pick went 3-for-12 from the field, finished with 16 points and contributed just one rebound in 29 minutes. Sonics forward Chris Wilcox, though, isn't worried about the young Seattle team.

"You are going to have nights like this," said Wilcox, who had 24 points and nine rebounds - both team highs. "It's better that it happened earlier in the season than later. Hopefully we can build off of what we did tonight and just try to get better."

"It's been rough for us these first 11 games, but we are a young team and we're just learning. I think we'll be alright - we just have to keep going."

The Grizzlies (2-7) also got off to a slow start, but they've improved in the last week. Their progress, however, hasn't shown up in their record. After beating Houston last Tuesday, Memphis has lost three straight games by a combined eight points.

Their last two defeats have come against Southwest Division rivals New Orleans and Dallas, which are a combined 16-4. Memphis went on a 10-0 run late in the fourth quarter on Saturday to tie Dallas at 101 before eventually losing 108-105 - its fourth setback by three points or fewer.

"Anytime we come into this place, we compete," said Grizzlies forward Mike Miller, who led the team with 23 points. "But I'm not going to say it was a moral victory because I don't believe in that."

Memphis center Darko Milicic, averaging career highs in scoring (10.3) and rebounds (7.6) after signing with the Grizzlies as a free agent in July, missed Saturday's game with a badly sprained left thumb sustained in Friday's overtime loss against New Orleans. The team will make a decision on Milicic's status for this game after re-evaluating the injury Monday.

This will be the second meeting this season between the Grizzlies and Sonics. Memphis limited Durant to 17 points on 3-for-17 shooting in a 105-98 victory at Seattle on Nov. 7.

Milicic, Pau Gasol and Rudy Gay each had double-doubles, and Miller hit six 3-pointers.

By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us

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