Russ saves the day, but this isn't what OKC wanted
By: A. Suave Francisco
Carmelo Anthony stressed how vital it was for the Thunder to come out for the last 23 games of the season with a new energy and motivation. In their first game back from the NBA All-Star break, the Thunder struggled against the Sacramento Kings.
A big lead early in the game isn't always a good thing and the Thunder showed you exactly why. Scoring a season-high and second-highest first quarter point total in Thunder history, both Paul George and Anthony showed that they were trying to "ramp it up" and unleash this team's full potential in that first quarter.
hey combined for 25 points and George had half of OKC's 14 record-breaking assists. More impressively, they held Sacramento to 21 points. Russell differed to his teammates, trying to get them going and succeded.
Some time in between the quarter break and the start of the second quarter the Thunder got complacent and forgot how to make shots and play defense on the (18-39) Kings.
The quarter started off with a 19-5 Kings run while George and Anthony only combined for five points after that strong start and it was the Sacramento second team that fueled and maintained the run. However, the Thunder still limped into the locker room with a 67-59 lead and no worries about possibly losing this trap game.
It was that third quarter when the leaders of this team: Westbrook, Anthony, George, and Adams seemed to lose their motivation completely. Sacramento opened the half on a 13-0 run and took their first lead over Oklahoma City after being down by 23 points in the first half.
That was ever so frustrating for the Thunder and their fans but not a shocker in the slightest. OKC ain't new to second-half letdowns. This was the third-straight time Sacramento made a fool of the Thunder who should dominate this young, poor team in every way, every time they play them.
Quarterly break down through three:
First: 44-21, OKC.
Second: 39-23, SAC.
Third: 28-18, SAC.
To start the final quarter, the Thunder were in the same position they've been in twice this season against the Kings; trailing. This time around they were down 90-85 and as the final quarter progressed, nothing seemed to budge for the Thunder. They weren't gaining much ground at all and Westbrook resorted back to chucking up questionable threes in the midst of a poor shooting night.
It wasn't until the Thunder played a few strong defensive possessions that they started to make some moves towards a win. OKC actually stopped the Kings in their final six offensive possessions where they didn't allow a point in the final five minutes of play, until Sac's rookie, Justin Jackson got a put-back bucket with just one second on the clock, bringing the score to a 107 tie. All indication pointed towards overtime in Sac-town. But in normal Russell Westbrook fashion, neither he or Billy Donovan cared that he was 3-of-13 on the night and 0-of-5 from long distance. They didn't care that both Anthony and George were having relatively good shooting nights. They exercised Westbrook's favorite motto, 'why not?' and took a dice-rolling chance at a last-second Westbrook three and got lucky. Oklahoma City won, 110-107.
Although everyone wanted to see a convincing win for the Thunder, the annoying " a win is a win" excuse still stands. The Thunder improved to (34-26) on the season with another matchup against the Golden State Warriors coming up on Saturday, a team they've blown out twice already.