by Jonathan Santiago & James Ham

 
The Sacramento Kings jumped on the Oklahoma City Thunder early, but the hole wasn’t anything the defending Western Conference champs couldn’t dig themselves out of.  The Kings let the Thunder overcome a 14-point deficit in the first quarter to beat them 105-95 at Sleep Train Arena.  Russell Westbrook dissected the Kings’ defense, racking up a season-high in assists.  The loss brings the Kings record to 16-28 overall, 12-12 at home.

Notes and Analysis

  • The Oklahoma City Thunder are tough.  Kevin Durant finished with 24 points, 11 rebounds and five assists to lead the team.  Russell Westbrook added 18 points and 14 assists, while former King Kevin Martin added 24 points in 34 minutes off the bench.  They hit the gas in the third quarter and never looked back.
  • Tyreke Evans led the Kings with 16 points on 6-for-11 shooting.  The Kings starting shooting guard added four rebounds, three assists and a steal in 32 minutes of action.
  • DeMarcus Cousins scored 14 points and tied for the team lead in rebounds with eight.  The big fella shot just 6-for-16 from the field and turned the ball over seven times in the loss.  The Kings needed more out of their star player against a relentless OKC team.
  • Jason Thompson had a bounce back game, finishing with 14 points and five rebounds in 33 minutes.  The Kings starting power forward has been in a major rut the last two weeks and needed a solid game to get back on track.
  • Marcus Thornton scored 13 points off the Kings bench, hitting three of his five 3-point attempts.  The Kings struggled to find Thornton in the offense, leading to him taking a total of eight shots on the night.
  • Jimmer Fredette and not Aaron Brooks got the call tonight for Keith Smart off the bench.  Jimmer struggled from the field, missing his first six shots before hitting two 3-pointers late in the fourth.  He finished with one assist in 18 minutes, but he had at least three set-ups to wide open teammates that were not converted.
  • Stat of the Night: Westbrook finished the game with 14 assists on the night in 32 minutes of action.  The entire Kings roster combined for 15.
- James Ham

Three answers to three questions pondered

1.  What kind of outing will former King Kevin Martin have?

The Kings got off to an 18-7 lead in the first six minutes of the game.  Then Kevin Martin took the floor and gave OKC the spark they were missing.  With usual Martin-like efficiency, he scored 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting in the first half.  Martin said pregame he wasn’t pressuring himself to put on a show considering this could be the last time he ever plays in Sacramento.  If this was indeed his last visit to the capital city, he put together a very good effort, finishing tied as the Thunder’s leading scorer with 24 points off the bench.

2.  Will Thomas Robinson continue to play at a high level?

The rookie forward came back down to earth.  Robinson played just 17 minutes while scoring just four points and grabbing four rebounds.  The Kings forward found himself matched up at times against Kevin Durant, which clearly didn’t work out in his favor on defense.  While Robinson struggled, Jason Thompson briefly managed to find his game against Oklahoma City.  Thompson scored nine points in the first quarter, but that’s about as good as it got for veteran power forward.

3.  Can Isaiah Thomas bounce back from a sluggish performance?

There would be no fourth quarter magic for Thomas against Oklahoma City tonight.  The Kings starting point guard once again struggled with his shot, making only 2-of-5 attempts from the field.  He also battled foul trouble all night long, picking up his fifth personal midway through the third period.  Thomas would play only 22 minutes and finish with seven points and one assist in the loss.

Quotes of the Game

Keith Smart’s opening comments:

You have to play great against a team like this.  I thought that we played a very good first half of basketball, except for about three minutes in the first half.  It came down to the tail end of each quarter and we didn’t close those the right way.  You can’t make those mistakes.  I thought our guys did a good job, but they came out flat in the third quarter and that’s where the game made a big turn.

Kevin Martin on his performance tonight:

I know these rims well.  I had some great times in this arena.

DeMarcus Cousins on the recent struggles in ball movement:

I wish I had that answer.  I believe if we had that answer, we wouldn’t be going through this.  I don’t know.