By Randy Renner
You know there was a time when Scotty Brooks would have loved to have been head coach of the Sacramento Kings.
He grew up just down the road in a small town in northern California, the Kings were the closest team and back in the day they were pretty darn good. The arena, called "Arco" back then, was always packed and always loud. It was one of the best, if not THE best game atmospheres in the NBA.
Brooks was an assistant there for a while before he hooked up with the Seattle SuperSonics which of course led him to Oklahoma City where he now leads a team that's more than a little bit like those classic Kings teams that could run circles around most anyone and Chesapeake Energy Arena is now known as the loudest arena in the NBA. Back in Sac-Town old "Arco Arena" is now known as "Sleep Train Arena" and fans do more dozing than cheering.
Now days Brooks only likes to visit his old stomping grounds, he wouldn't want to coach there anymore. Not a very good life expectancy for coaches there these days.
On a whim apparently, the Kings new ownership fired a good coach over the weekend even though the team has been without star forward DeMarcus Cousins for the last couple of weeks. Cousins is still recovering from viral meningitis. His absence sent the Kings season spiraling and there was little coach Michael Malone or anyone else could do about it.
Malone got the axe anyway and now Ty Corbin, who was Malone's lead assistant and formally coached the Utah Jazz, takes over.
Corbin and the shorthanded Kings now must face a rejuvenated and healthy again Thunder squad that's on a big time roll.
The Kings lost to the Thunder earlier this season in Oklahoma City while the Thunder were still ailing so the Kings may not be able to put up much resistance tonight.
That of course is also when teams like the Kings can be the most dangerous, especially if the Thunder go into the game thinking (like most of us) that they already have the game won.
I doubt the Thunder will fall victim to that sort of thinking. The team and especially superstar point guard Russell Westbrook seem locked in on the mission at hand, winning as many games as possible to get as close to the rest of the pack as possible in the loaded Western Conference.
OKC begins the day in a 3-way tie with Sacramento and Phoenix for ninth place in The West, just a half game behind New Orleans for the eighth spot.
The Thunder have won six straight games and eight of the last nine to climb almost all the way out of the 3-12 hole they buried themselves in over the first month of the season.
This trip to the west coast offers a chance to win at least two more games, tonight in Sacramento and Friday night in Los Angeles against a terrible Lakers team. It also offers up a showdown game with the Golden State Warriors on Thursday night.
Remember back on November 23rd at The Peake the Thunder, still without Westbrook and superstar forward Kevin Durant, almost beat the Warriors by holding them to their point total of the season and their worst shooting percentage by far.
The Thunder defense is still as good as it's been. OKC leads the NBA in scoring defense giving up just 94 points a game. They're second in opponent shooting percentage allowing teams to hit a meager 41.7 percent of their shots.
The biggest difference the Thunder are enjoying now that KD and Russ are back is the explosive offense. The Thunder have gone from averaging just under 90 points a game with their stars on the bench to averaging almost 105 a game with them back out on the court.
It has proven to be a deadly combination for opponents and if it continues, by the time the Thunder are back home on Sunday night they'll be above .500, solidly back in the playoff race and up and out of that November hole.