For the second time in a week, the Sacramento Kings fell to the Oklahoma City Thunder by double figures, this time losing 103-92 at Power Balance Pavilion.
“I was happy with them,” said Kings head coach Keith Smart after the game. ”The way they competed, the way they played. They made those guys work for some of things that they got tonight. Obviously, we (had) some defensive breakdowns at the wrong time of the game, but we’re going to get better from that.”
The Kings managed to take a seven-point lead, 17-10, early in the first quarter. But the Thunder answered with an 8-0 run to take the lead for good.
DeMarcus Cousins recorded team highs in points (18) and rebounds (9) in 34 minutes of action. Four other Kings scored in double figures, including Jimmer Fredette, who chipped in 11 points off the bench.
The Thunder, meanwhile, have now held 12 of their last 15 opponents under 100 points, including their previous three. Oklahoma City’s triumvirate of Kevin Durant, James Harden and Russell Westbrook combined to score 67 of the Thunder’s 103 points.
The Kings fall to 20-43 overall and 15-17 at Power Balance Pavilion. They have a day off Saturday before playing their last game in the eastern time zone against the Charlotte Bobcats on Sunday.
Notes and Analysis
- Kevin Durant is really good. In front of the legendary Oscar Robertson, Durnat nearly pinned a triple-double on the Kings tonight. The star wing finished with 29 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists in 38 minutes.
- The problem with playing the Thunder is that while Durant is getting loose, Russell Westbrook (18 points) and James Harden (20 points, six rebounds) are busy wreaking havoc all over the floor. This team is going to continue to be tough for years to come.
- Serge Ibaka played goalie tonight for the Thunder. The defensive specialist finished with 12 points, six rebounds and eight blocks, making life very difficult for Cousins. Ibaka has recorded 25 blocks in three games against the Kings this year.
- Even with Ibaka’s stifling defense, Cousins only missed a double-double by a single rebound, finishing the night with 18 points and nine rebounds in the loss. Kings fans should get used to Cousins being the primary weapon on offense going into next season and beyond. If he becomes slightly more explosive in the post, he can present match-up problems for almost every team in the league.
- Tyreke Evans started at shooting guard tonight in place of Marcus Thornton. The results were mixed. Evans finished with 16 points and four assists, but he failed to grab a single rebound. He looks lost right now and I’m not sure that it helped that his agent, Arn Tellem was sitting courtside with big brother Reggie.
- On Wednesday night against the Spurs, coach Smart played every player on his bench except Travis Outlaw. Tonight, the veteran wing started against Durant and the results were less than stellar. Outlaw missed all six of his shots, finishing with just one point and four rebounds in 27 minutes of action.
- Jason Thompson has had an up and down couple of weeks. He was great in the first half, but the Thunder made adjustments at intermission that slowed the Kings power forward. Thompson finished with 13 points and eight rebounds, but he had ten points and six boards before the break.
- Jimmer scored 11 points tonight on 5-for-11 shooting. The rookie guard still has moments where he gets in over his head and turns the ball over, but he is doing a better job of realizing those mistakes. I see progress.
- Stat of the Night: At 20-43, the Kings are now tied with the New Orleans Hornets for the worst record in the Western Conference.
Marcus Thornton did not play due to a left-quad contusion injury he suffered against the San Antonio Spurs. His status remains questionable going into Sunday’s game against the Bobcats.
“We’ll see how it goes because we have to fly across country,” said Kings head coach Keith Smart. ”If it swells at all, we’ll see once we land in Charlotte because we have a little workout tomorrow night and see how he goes from there.”