Sacramento, CA – If the Kings want to grab the eighth spot in the Western Conference standings, they’ll have to finish the first half strong. Sitting two games behind the Portland Trailblazers, Sacramento doesn’t want to dig a hole to deep.
But they did that anyway. After a rally in the fourth, the Kings couldn’t contain a “hot” Russell Westbrook who recorded his 20th triple-double of the season. Westbrook’s 36 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists helped the Thunder rout Sacramento 122-118.
“I didn’t think we had a lot of momentum,” Kings coach Dave Joerger said. “At the end of day, I can yell about referees and this and that, but we had 15 turnovers at halftime. It doesn’t have to do with anything else.”
OKC took control in the second half with 2:07 left in the third capped off by a 10-2 run to take an 88-71 lead. Sacramento responded, ending the quarter on an 8-0 run then made three to start the fourth quarter to get within six points at 91-82 on an Arron Afflalo three-point shot with 11:44 left to go.
Late in the fourth, the Kings went on 13-4 run to get within 3. DeMarcus Cousins’ three-point foul shot got the Kings within 2 at 118-116 with 18.5 seconds left. But two back-to-back fouls and a technical by Matt Barns kept the Thunder ahead. Westbrook hit a jump shot and followed with a 3-pointer to seal their win.
“Russell’s second half was phenomenal. He was really efficient scoring and passing,” said OKC head coach Billy Donovan.
Sacramento scored 39 points in the fourth quarter to close the game. The 39 points were the most the Kings have scored in the fourth quarter this season. Sacramento shot 35-40 from the charity stripe while the Thunder made 33-of-41. It is the second highest free-throw output game of the season as they made 36-of-43 vs. Portland on 12/20.
“Just picking my spots – finishing the game, figuring out how to close games even though we didn’t close the particular way we wanted to [tonight],” Westbrook said. “But I think we had the game in hand, we did a good job.”
Cousins had 31 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists. He collected his 20th double-double of the season. Rudy Gay added 22 points and 10 rebounds while Darren Collison had 21 points. Despite a solid effort from the starters, Sacramento’s turnovers were costly.
The Kings committed 15 turnovers by halftime. They had 22 turnovers that led to 23 easy points for the Thunder. Sacramento has now lost 5-of-6 on the current home stand and 7 of their last 10 games overall.
“Tough night, tough game to watch,” said Joerger. “41 turnovers, 81 free throws and 31 offensive rebounds. Those are tough things to overcome and try to make a comeback at the end.”