Thunder Hope To Get Back On A Roll Tonight
By Randy Renner
Thunder superstar Kevin Durant is on a mission and it begins tonight.
"We gotta put games together. We gotta put four or five games, good games together," Durant said after Saturday’s practice. "I think we've been too inconsistent and that starts with me. I gotta definitely up the level of my teammates every single time I'm on the court. I gotta do a way better job."
Though Durant misfired from beyond the arc twice in the closing seconds at Miami Thursday he’s mostly been terrific this season and especially since returning from his strained hamstring.
Durant leads Oklahoma City in scoring this season at 28.2 points per game. He's hit that average exactly while shooting 53.3 percent from the floor and going 16-for-34 (47.1 percent) from beyond the arc over the past five games.
So it’s not really KD that needs to do ‘a way better job’ but he could probably use a little more help and for sure more consistent play from his teammates.
Durant and Russell Westbrook have combined for 109 points over the last two games, but the rest of the starters have totaled just 42 to put the Thunder on the brink of matching their three-game losing streak from early November.
The Thunder have hit just 41.9 percent of their shots in losing to Atlanta and Miami and were merely 4-for-16 (25 percent) from beyond the arc in the Heat loss. Westbrook not only didn’t have a basket he didn’t score a single point over that game’s last 16 minutes.
OKC needed to at least make attempts to drive to the basket instead of constantly settling for jumpers. Both superstars admitted as much in postgame interviews and since.
They have what appears to be an excellent opportunity to solve some of those problems, even if just for the night, by playing a Sacramento team that’s never won a game against the Thunder in Oklahoma City (0-13) and is just 3-22 against the Thunder overall.
The Kings are 7-14 and are coming in on the second night of a back-to-back. They’re 0-5 in those situations this season. Their overall record isn’t quite as bad as it looks because they’ve played the toughest early season schedule in the NBA but they do seem to still be struggling with what head coach George Karl wants them to do.
They’re coming off a 120-114 loss in Houston last night and the Kings have been atrocious on defense while out on the road giving up 114.1 points and losing seven of the nine games they’ve played away from home.
Big man DeMarcus Cousins has been in foul trouble the last couple of games, fouling out in Houston, but he’s still managed a respectable 30 points and 16 rebounds in those two games combined. That 15 point, 8 rebound average is about what he’s done over the last seven games he’s played at The Peake (13.4, 8.1).
The Kings will be without center Willie Cauley-Stein who’s out with a dislocated finger. Sacramento has used 11 starting lineups in just 21 games, some of it is due to injuries and some of it due to Karl trying to find something that works.
The Thunder are healthy and have recalled Mitch McGary, Josh Huestis and Cameron Payne from the OKC Blue of the D-League.
Tipoff tonight is set for 6 o’clock and can be seen on Fox Sports Oklahoma. Our full InsideThunder.com crew will be at The Peake providing updates on our Twitter feed page and a postgame video wrap-up including interviews from the lockerroom.