Thunder Streak To Seven Straight
By Randy Renner
The Thunder survived a last quarter scare from the Sacramento Kings and ended up winning going away 104-92 giving the Thunder their seventh straight win and their ninth victory in the last 10 games.
OKC threated to run away and hide form the Kings early in the game, jumping out to a 34-18 lead in the first quarter. It was so bad Kings fans booed their team as they walked to their huddle.
Maybe that woke them up or gave the Thunder too much confidence but whatever the reason the Kings came back to life and got back into the game for a while. Sacramento even led briefly in the fourth quarter but the Thunder finished the game by clamping down on defense to get the win.
"Defensively, I think we've been locking in," said Kevin Durant, who played a season-high 35 minutes. "We have little spurts where we're bad, but overall I think we did a good job in playing defense."
Durant scored 26 points and at 26 years old became the second youngest player in the NBA to score 15,000 points. LeBron James reached that milestone at age 25 but remember James came into the league straight out of high school, while KD played a year of college.
Russell Westbrook also had a huge game and reached a record. Westbrook scored 32 points and is now averaging 25.8 points a game while playing an average of 29.4 minutes a game. He becomes the first player in NBA history to average at least 25 points in less than 30 minutes a game for the first 10 games of a season. Westbrook missed 14 games with a broken hand.
It was the first game for the Kings since Michael Malone was fired as coach and lead assistant Tyrone Corbin was promoted to interim coach. They dropped to 2-8 while star forward DeMarcus Cousins has been out of the lineup with viral meningitis.
"This is an I-don't-feel-sorry-for-you league," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "When we had guys hurt, I didn't get a lot of text messages, 'Hey, hang in there,' from the other 29 coaches in the league."
The Thunder also got seven blocks from forward Serge Ibaka and 10 rebounds from center Steven Adams.
They'll stay on the west coast the rest of the week for games at Golden State Thursday night and then at the LA Lakers on Friday night.
The Warriors lost for the first time since Veterans Day last night. The Memphis Grizzlies' defense made it tough on Golden State not allowing the Warriors to reach 100 points.
The last time the Thunder a Warriors played (last month in OKC) the Thunder, even without superstars Durant and Westbrook, put the clamps on the Warriors offense too. Oklahoma City held Golden State to their lowest point total of the season and their worst shooting night.
Even so the Thunder lost that game.
A similar defensive effort will likely be needed Thursday night but now at least the Thunder have the offensive firepower to stay with the Warriors even in a shootout.
This next one should be fun to watch and it should be a much better gauge as to how close the Thunder are now to the team that many consider to be the best in the NBA right now. It's another late game, with tipoff likely around 9:45 Thursday night. It's the second game of TNT's national TV double-header. The game will also be televised by Fox Sports Oklahoma.