Despite Adams' Injury Thunder Hold Off Kings For 122-118 Win
By Randy Renner, Senior Writer
Victor Oladipo and Enes Kanter carried the Thunder through the first half and then Russell Westbrook took over in the last 24 minutes to lead the Thunder to a harder then it should have been 122-118 win over the Kings in Sacramento.
Steven Adams had to leave the game in the 3rd quarter when he got tangled up with Kings center DeMarcus Cousins and crashed to the floor, striking the back of his head on the court.
He has a possible concussion and will be re-evaluated before perhaps going into the NBA’s concussion protocol which would keep him out of tonight’s game in Los Angeles against the Clippers.
The Thunder led by as many as 17 but nearly let the game get away from them late, giving up 39 4th quarter points to Sacramento. The Thunder led 114-102 with 1:23 to play but let that dozen point lead melt all the way down to just three points a minute later.
Oladipo and Alex Abrines hit four free throws in the closing seconds and Westbrook intercepted a Cousins pass and took the ball to the other end for a transition layup that secured the win with under five seconds to play.
“There are just so many things in that last 1:23 that will be incredible and invaluable teaching points to our guys,” head coach Billy Donovan said. “Fortunately enough, we won.”
“Give our guys credit. We stepped up and made free throws, which was really good,” Donovan continued. “But the offensive rebounding, the turnovers and fouling the shooters were things you can’t do closing out games.”
OKC turned the ball over three times during that stretch and of all things fouled Cousins when he was shooting a 3-pointer. He had been 1-for-6 on threes during the game but he made all three of those free throws.
But all’s well that ends well and like Donovan said the Thunder can learn from what happened coming down the stretch but still be happy they had enough in the tank to keep the Kings from winning.
Westbrook’s second half was amazing, scoring 25 points on 8-for-12 shooting (4-for-4 on threes) with seven rebounds and four assists. Adding in his 11-point, 4-rebound, 6-assist first half and he finished with his 20th triple-double of the season.
''Russell's second half was phenomenal. He was really efficient scoring and passing,'' Donovan said.
Kanter came in especially handy after Adams had to leave. He finished with 29 points (a season-high) and 12 rebounds. He was also 9-for-11 at the free throw line.
“He’s the best guy in the league coming off the bench and I appreciate and believe that because he does so many different things at a high level, rebound the basketball, scoring, defending well. He’s been doing that since I’ve been here and all season long,” Westbrook said. He continues to believe Kanter should be the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year.
“He was great tonight,” Donovan said of Kanter. “He did a really good job defensively. Cousins is a hard guy to defend when he’s coming at you like that and with his ability to shoot the ball. Enes played an exceptional game on both ends of the floor. I was pleased with the way he stepped up.”
Oladipo added 23 and Abrines finished with 13 points and was 3-for-4 from beyond the arc.
Still though, Donovan kept going back to the nightmare last couple of minutes of what had already been a bad 4th quarter, at least defensively.
''We allowed 39 points in the fourth quarter. We were fortunate we won. The things we did at the end of the game will get you beat.''
But this time on this night, the Thunder managed to win instead and hopefully carry some momentum into tonight’s game in Los Angeles against the Clippers.