Here’s the thing about the Sacramento Kings: They may have a 4-12 record currently. But they, like any team in the NBA, are not a team you take lightly.
The Thunder almost made that mistake last night, and it showed.
They came out in the 1st quarter, scored a quick basket, then watched as the Kings started a 14-0 run to claim a 12-point lead (14-2) with 7:19 remaining in the opening quarter. It was a lead that the Kings would take into the 2nd, as the 1st quarter ended with the Kings up 31-19.
The Thunder, however, didn’t plan on taking this lying down, as they started to get their act together in the 2nd. Down 40-30 with just under 6 minutes remaining in the first half, the Thunder started a 17-5 run to claim their first lead of the game (47-45) with just over a minute to play in the half. The Thunder would head into the break clinching a 3-point lead (50-47).
In the 3rd, the Thunder went off. Granted, they didn’t hit the 30-point mark in terms of points scored for the quarter, but they managed to keep the Kings under 20 points for the second straight quarter. Although the Kings had a 1-point lead (65-64) with just over 3 and a half minutes to play in the third, the Thunder sparked an 18-0 run that extended into the 4th quarter. With just over 10:00 to play, that 18-0 run had extended the Thunder lead to 17 (82-65). I thought it was a done deal. The thing about the Kings is that they’re pesky. You’d think they’d just sink quietly into the background after the Thunder hit a run like that. The Kings, however, had other ideas.
Down 17 and desperate, the Kings managed to spark an 13-0 run that brought them to within 4 (82-78) with just under 8:00 remaining. Try as they might, the Thunder just couldn’t get the Kings to admit defeat, and the Kings even managed to pull within 2 (97-95) with 37.3 seconds remaining. The Kings fought valiantly to secure overtime, but Isaiah Thomas’ last-second attempt rimmed out, and the Thunder hung on to secure the 97-95 victory.
As ugly as the victory may have been, some Thunder players were able to post some beautiful numbers. Kevin Durant had the Thunder’s lone double-double (27 points, 11 rebounds), but guys like Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka made their presence felt as well (Westbrook: 15 points. Ibaka: 13 points.). Good bench scoring helped seal the deal for the Thunder, as Jeremy Lamb scored 14, and Reggie Jackson contributed 13 of his own.
Jason Thompson’s double-double (10 points, 10 boards), certainly helped keep the Kings in it. Ben McLemore dropped 14 points, Derrick Williams put up 13, and Greivis Vasquez dropped 12. Surprisingly, the top scorer for the Kings was bench player Isaiah Thomas, the man who nearly forced overtime. He put up 24 of the Kings’ points himself.
The Thunder improve to 13-3 with the victory, and have extended their current winning streak to 8 games. The Kings fall to a dismal 4-12 with the loss. There’s no time to reflect on this victory for the Thunder, however. They travel up the west coast to take on the Portland Trail Blazers, who are currently 15-3 themselves. This match-up has all of the elements of a true barn-burner, so I wouldn’t advise missing this one. This one is coming to you live from Moda Center in Portland, OR. The game will be broadcast via Fox Sports Oklahoma, WWLS The Sports Animal, and NBA League Pass.
I feel I should inform my fellow readers that this blog is a contributor to the recently launched KC Sports Ninja website. Be sure to give them a look. I think you’ll like it.