CK Press Box Report: OKC Thunder 104, Sacramento Kings 92

By James Ham and Rui Thomas

RudyFacingDownDurant

In interim head coach Tyrone Corbin’s debut, the result was anything but new. The Sacramento Kings (11-14) played their 10th straight game without DeMarcus Cousins (viral meningitis) and caved in to the visiting Oklahoma City Thunder (12-13), 104-92.

The Kings’ new up-tempo offense, which fired head coach Michael Malone supposedly held back, opened with a thud. Sacramento managed zero fast break points (eight for the game) and seven turnovers (19 total) as Oklahoma City raced out to a 34-20 first quarter lead. Darren Collison was ineffective at the point producing six points on 2-of-8 field goals, three assists and three turnovers, and none of the Kings starters shot over 50 percent. Rudy Gay led Sacramento with 22 points on 8-of-20 shooting.

But the bench was another story. Sacramento’s reserves hustled, defended and nearly scored at will, recording 44 of the team’s total points while shooting at a 54.8 percent clip. Carl Landry posted 14 points on 6-of-8 field goals, working the Thunder down low and looking sharp from midrange.

“He’s been coming on the last couple weeks,” Corbin told the media after the game. “He’s working his tail off in practices, getting a better feel for his game and trying to get himself back to health. Carl Landry, the last couple years, he’s been injured. It seemed he had a pretty good bounce to him tonight.”

Ryan Hollins scored six points on 3-of-3 attempts and grabbed nine rebounds. Ramon Sessions came out of nowhere to notch 11 points on 5-of-10 shots, four assists and one turnover, earning 22 minutes and easily outplaying his starting counterpart.

Sacramento’s defense warmed up as well after allowing Oklahoma City to shoot over 50 percent from the floor and behind the arc in the first half, but the Thunder’s studded lineup was too much to overcome. Russell Westbrook torched the Kings for 32 points, seven assists, six rebounds, four steals and one turnover. Kevin Durant added 26 points, becoming the second-youngest player in NBA history to record 15,000 career points. Anthony Morrow lit up Sacramento for 10 points going perfect from the court in the first half.

“We want to try to defend,” reinforced Corbin after the losing effort. “We want to try to get stops. We want to get stops in bunches. As we try to open the game up a little bit, we still need to defend teams.”

Considering the whirlwind of drama within the last 48 hours, the Kings showed a gritty effort. Sacramento will host the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday.

Notes and Analysis

  • Rudy Gay got up to play against NBA MVP Kevin Durant.  He scored a team-high 22 points, grabbed six rebounds and handed out three assists in 35 minutes.  With Cousins on the mend, the pressure to score should get a little lighter on Gay soon.
  • After dropping in 15 points and 11 rebounds last time out, Carl Landry had a strong offensive showing again tonight.  Landry used a variety of moves to score 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting.  His rebound numbers weren’t very impressive, but Thompson, Reggie Evans and Ryan Hollins hit the glass hard, leaving only scraps for Landry.
  • Jason Thompson played a solid 34 minutes tonight.  The veteran big man scored six points and grabbed nine rebounds, but it was the defensive end where he really made an impact.  Serge Ibaka scored just nine points on 3-of-10 shooting in 34 minutes against Thompson.
  • Hollins played with passion and energy.  The former UCLA defensive specialist hit all three of his shots on his way to a six-point, nine-rebound, three-assist performance.
  • Ramon Sessions woke from his slumber early in this game, scoring 11 points on 5-of-9 shooting in the first half.  But the veteran disappeared in the second-half when the Kings needed him most.
  • Like Sessions, Ben McLemore was aggressive out of the gate, but faded late.  The 21-year-old guard dropped in 10 points on 4-of-11 shooting and added three rebounds and three assists.
  • Stat of the Night: Jason Thompson has now played for six coaches in seven seasons and there is a possibility for more change before it’s all said and done.

Quote of the Game

Carl Landry on the former coaching staff’s legacy

“Coach Malone, he done a lot for this organization. I said last year that he’s the best head coach this organization has seen since Rick Adelman. And that’s credited to Ty Corbin as well. He’s put in a lot of work and played a big part in this organization’s success for the last year.”

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