Thunder Must Jump On Kings Early
By Randy Renner
Yesterday Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook talked about setting the tone on defense and today after shootaround Kevin Durant talked about "making second and third efforts" on both ends of the floor.
At this point in the season the Thunder don't want to let wins against teams they should beat get away from them.
Tonight and Sunday afternoon the Thunder play teams from Sacramento and Utah that have fewer wins combined this season (48) then the Thunder do all by themselves (52).
That doesn't mean the Kings and Jazz should be taken lightly, they have to be taken seriously and dealt with appropriately because they have guys who are capable of big nights.
"They (the Kings) have three 20 point scorers on their team and that's hard to come by on any team," Durant pointed out. "We have to do a better job of not letting those guys get easy points."
DeMarcus Cousins leads the Kings averaging 22.5 points, Isaiah Thomas is at 20.7 and Rudy Gay at 20.3. Thomas missed his first game of the season Wednesday night in New York with a bruised quad and may not play tonight.
"We have to prepare like Isaiah is gonna play tonight," Durant said, "but if he doesn't Rudy and DeMarcus are gonna have more opportunities."
The Thunder will want to limit those as much as possible and take advantage of what can be a very porous Kings defense.
Sacramento has lost seven of their last 10 games and has never won against the Thunder in Oklahoma City (0-10).
Toward the end of shootaround Kendrick Perkins was running drills up and down the floor. He's clearly working toward being back in the lineup by his personal deadline, next Friday at Houston. Thabo Sefolosha was working on his shooting. Neither man participated in practice.
Rookies Andre Roberson and Steven Adams will again fill-in for them.
This is the start of a three game homestand for the Thunder. Sacramento tonight, Utah on Sunday afternoon and then the Spurs come in here on Thursday finishing up a stretch of six games in nine nights.
Check back this evening about an hour before the game for our tipoff blog and then afterwards for a video postgame report.