The Western Conference-leading Oklahoma City Thunder's latest defeat could be their most discouraging of the season.
Their victory over the Denver Nuggets last month was perhaps their most satisfying.
The Thunder hope to put a disappointing loss that capped a frustrating homestand behind them Thursday night when they visit the Nuggets in a matchup of Northwest Division rivals.
Oklahoma City (32-10) and Denver are the top two teams in the Northwest, but the Thunder are running away with the division - they lead the Nuggets (24-19) by 8 1/2 games.
Protecting home court has been one of the biggest reasons Oklahoma City has pulled away as it owns an 18-3 record at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Two of those losses, however, came in the Thunder's last three games.
After suffering an embarrassing loss to Cleveland on Friday, they appeared ready to finish their five-game homestand Tuesday with a fourth victory as they led Houston 102-91 with 2:29 remaining. The Rockets, however, closed the game on a 13-1 run to send Oklahoma City to a stunning 104-103 loss.
"I think we had this one in our hands throughout the fourth,'' All-Star Russell Westbrook said. "We just let it go at the end.''
Westbrook finished with 19 points but had two turnovers, a missed jumper and a technical foul in the final stretch. Kevin Durant had a team-high 28 points but missed a turnaround jumper from the top of the key in the closing seconds.
"It was working for us, we were passing the ball to each other and finishing plays," Durant said. "We have to continue to just keep playing together and we'll be OK."
Durant and company showed just how impressive they can be in a 124-118 overtime victory over the Nuggets on Feb. 19.
Durant had a career-best 51 points, Westbrook scored 40 and Serge Ibaka added 14 points, 15 rebounds and a career-best 11 blocks for his first triple-double. It was the first time in NBA history three teammates put together a 50-point night, a 40-point complementary effort and a triple-double.
If there was one positive the Nuggets took from that loss is they pushed the Thunder to overtime despite playing without Danilo Gallinari and Nene Hilario.
Those two should both be on the court for the rematch and could be big factors considering how well each played in Denver's 118-117 overtime victory over Atlanta on Tuesday.
Gallinari had 19 points, including a key 3-pointer as he fell out of bounds with 3.9 seconds left in regulation, while Nene scored 22 and had the game's final points on two free throws with 27 seconds remaining. Both were appearing in their fifth game after missing extended time because of injuries.
Tuesday's performance was especially encouraging for Gallinari, who missed 13 games with a chip fracture in his left foot. He made 6 of 13 shots after totaling 18 points on 5-of-25 shooting in his previous four contests.
"You sit out more than a month you're legs are not the same,'' he said. "It's going to take a while but I'm feeling better.''
Denver, 6-2 since the All-Star break, is first in the league in scoring at 104.1 points, just ahead of Oklahoma City at 102.5 per game.
Durant is averaging 27.9 points, and in 12 games against Denver since 2008-09, he is averaging 32.2 points - his third-highest average against any team.
The Thunder have won three straight over the Nuggets after losing 12 of the previous 15 in the series. Oklahoma City's 101-94 victory in Denver on April 5 snapped a seven-game losing streak there.