2014 NBA schedule: Clippers take on Thunder in Western Conference showdown

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport

The Los Angeles Clippers travel to Oklahoma City to take on Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

Appetizer: Houston Rockets vs. Phoenix Suns

9 p.m. ET (ESPN)

The Rockets have been on a roll lately, with their only loss in February coming on Wednesday to the Golden State Warriors. They've scored over 101 points in every win, and James Harden has upped his scoring and field goal percentage considerably.

But Harden is battling an elbow injury after he hyperextended it against the Warriors. Houston will need him at full strength to take on the Phoenix Suns, who have the ability to turn up the defensive pressure and outrun the Rockets on the counterattack. The way the Western Conference playoff standings sit now, these two teams would meet in the first round. Maybe Sunday is when they start scheming against each other?

Main Course: Los Angeles Clippers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

1 p.m. ET (ABC)

Oklahoma City badly needs to come away from this game with a win. They were embarrassed in their last game at home against the Miami Heat when they got trounced, 103-81. Kevin Durant looked out-of-sorts against the Heat defense and Russell Westbrook had more turnovers (4) than assists (2). Of course, the Clippers let James Johnson do this against them, so maybe there's hope:

The Clippers defense is far less stringent than Miami's and should allow Oklahoma City some freedom to move about at home. The game could prove important for L.A. as well, as the Clippers have been somewhat mediocre in the month of February. They are just 4-4 and could use Sunday's game against the Thunder to send a message to the rest of the Western Conference on national television that this year they are for real.

Dessert: Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Portland Trail Blazers

9 p.m. ET (League Pass)

This game will be the most unorthodox matchup of the night as the broken-down Trail Blazers try to fight off the listless Timberwolves. For Minnesota, the season is all but lost after having an up-and-down struggle with their seemingly-impressive averages, but dismal win-loss record. The Timberwolves sit below the playoff picture for the West, and all reason suggests they won't be able to push for the final spot.

Portland will be missing several key players, including LaMarcus Aldridge, Joel Freeland and Meyers Leonard. Without much of a frontcourt, the Blazers have turned to small ball in their games since the All-Star break, playing Dorell Wright and Nicolas Batum in combination at the 3-4. The Blazers can still score the ball, but their defense appears to have been dealt yet another blow.

Other Games

All times ET

Bulls vs. Heat, 3:30 p.m.

Wizards vs. Cavaliers, 6 p.m.

Magic vs. Raptors, 6 p.m.

Kings vs. Nuggets, 8 p.m.

Nets vs. Lakers, 9 p.m.

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