Thunder Build Big Lead, Cruise Past Kings
By Randy Renner
The Thunder defense smothered the life out of the Sacramento Kings for three quarters, Kevin Durant extended his 25 point game streak (37) and the Thunder extended their streak of never losing to the Kings in OKC (11-0).
All in all a pretty darn good Friday Night in the Big Town.
"I thought in the first and third quarters we really came out with a good defensive disposition," Thunder head coach Scott Brooks told reporters after the game.
"We were using our length and really getting into the passing lanes. We were locked in defensively."
The Thunder held the Kings to just 51 points on 30.2 percent shooting though the first 36 minutes, and then gave up 30 points on 54.5 percent shooting in the fourth quarter. By then though the benches had emptied and the outcome had been decided.
Kevin Durant ultra efficient, scoring 29 points on a mere 11 shots. He hit nine of those and was also 8-for-8 at the free throw line. Russell Westbrook was efficient on the offensive end too, scoring 18 points on 7-for-12 shooting.
"Offensively we were moving the basketball (26 assists) we were getting the shots we wanted," Brooks said.
The Thunder really focused on limiting the Kings Big Three of Isaiah Thomas, Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins. Each came into the game averaging at least 20 points.
Thomas didn't play because of a bruised quad so that eliminated him. The Thunder eliminated both Gay and Cousins who combined for 11 points. Gay scored seven on 3-for-11 shooting and Cousins, who came in averaging a double-double, managed just four points and four rebounds.
"Those guys, it's tough to stop them with one person so we did it together," said Durant. "Not one guy could take credit for stopping Gay or Cousins. So we just tried to do it together and rely on each other and we did a good job."
Jeremy Lamb had one of his better games and showed some signs of breaking out of a prolonged shooting slump. He scored 13 points and splashed three 3-pointers.
"When coach trusts me to go into the game or my teammates trust me out there, I wanna make them proud," Lamb told reporters in the lockerroom.
His coach did seem happy with his performance after the game.
"I thought he was good tonight," Brooks said of Lamb. "Obviously he's made some shots but I liked his defensive toughness tonight."
Brooks had to love what he saw out of his main guys tonight on that end of the floor after they struggled to contain the Dallas Mavericks a few nights ago.
Both Thabo Sefolosha and Kendrick Perkins are expected back in the lineup soon, perhaps late next week and that should further shore up the defense heading into the playoffs.
But even as they get healthy, the Thunder may have lost another key player. Backup point guard Reggie Jackson, who has started 33 games in place of Westbrook, was held out of the game tonight with a back strain.
It's unclear just how serious the injury is, "we'll know more tomorrow," is all Brooks would say about it Friday night.
The Thunder will practice Saturday and we'll update you then on Jackson's health.