The injuries have taken a toll. Without a full squad, the Kings had no answer for Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder. Durant’s streak of consecutive games with twenty-five points or more ended when the MVP candidate finished with 23 points in the Thunder’s 107-92 victory over the Kings.
Sacramento did everything they could to stop OKC’s run to start the fourth quarter but fell flat. Playing short-handed, the Kings were again without Isaiah Thomas (bruised right quadriceps), Rudy Gay (back injury) and Reggie Evans (back injury).
“It was unfair for Travis Outlaw and DeMarcus Cousins, who played great,” said head coach Michael Malone. “We were down eight in between the third and fourth, and I thought the guys who started the fourth quarter just played badly.”
The Thunder outscored Sacramento 16-0 to start the fourth. Caron Butler came off the bench and scored 23 points in 26 minutes. Serge Ibaka added 19 points along with Durant’s 23 points. The Kings had no answer for Butler’s six three-point shots while going 8-for-10 shooting.
“We had some guys that played with no energy,” Malone said. “It looked like they didn’t even want to be out there, to be honest.”
Sacramento recorded their third straight loss and have three games remaining at home before the season ends. The Kings are 0-5 without Gay in the lineup. Cousins tied Chris Webber (2000-01) single-season for double-doubles, recording his 50th of the season with a game-high-tying 24 points and game-high 14 rebounds.
“I didn’t want to say it to knock the players on the their bench but it’s the truth,” Cousins said. “It was our starting unit against their bench and they went on a 13-0 run. So, that’s just completely unacceptable.”
OKC built a double-digit lead throughout the game and Sacramento stayed close through three quarters despite being without three of their regulars. Outlaw scored 24 points and set a new career-high in his third start of the season. But Thunder’s bench opened up the fourth and held the Kings scoreless for almost six minutes.
“A loss is a loss,” said Outlaw. “When we came back in the game we were still down. So they just went on a run, that’s what a playoff team does.”