THE FACTS: It wasn't pretty, in fact there were times when it was downright ugly but the Oklahoma City Thunder held off a stubborn Sacramento Kings squad 104-95 to win their 60th game of the season and clinch the top seed in the upcoming Western Conference playoffs.
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook again powered the Thunder and because the Kings refused to fold had to play more minutes than perhaps they'd planned. Durant played 37:20 and scored 29 points on 10-for-16 shooting. He was also 3-for-5 on threes. Durant added eight assists, seven rebounds and two blocks. Westbrook was not as efficient, scoring 21 points on 8-for-19. He also lost control of his emotions a couple of times and picked up two technical fouls in the second half. His second brought an automatic ejection and brought his season "tech" total to 15 with one game left in the regular season. Serge Ibaka finished with 14 points and seven rebounds.
The Kings were led by point guard Isaiah Thomas, who finished with 16 points and hit four 3-pointers. He was the only Sacramento starter in double figures. Travis Outlaw came off the bench to score 15 points and Cole Aldrich, a former Thunder backup center, came off the bench to drop a dozen on his former mates on 6-for-6 shooting. Kings leading scorer DeMarcus Cousins was held to just seven points on 2-for-9 shooting and Tyreke Evans finished with eight points before leaving the game in the first quarter with a strained quad.
The Thunder went deep into their bench. Starting center Kendrick Perkins and sixth man Kevin Martin were held out of their second straight game with minor injuries.
The 60 wins marks the fourth time the Thunder franchise has reached that elite total and the first since the team moved to Oklahoma City from Seattle. It's also the first time the Thunder have clinched the top seed in the Western Conference playoffs.
QUOTABLE: "60 wins, guys, I'm excited. 50 is a great number and anytime you can get to 60 it's special. It's great, you set goals at the start of the season you wanna work to get to 60 wins and it's quite an accomplishment. We've come a long way."
-- Thunder coach Scott Brooks
THE STAT: The last season the franchise was in Seattle the Sonics won only 20 games. The Thunder's first season in OKC the win total increased by just three to 23. Since then the Thunder have won 212 games and increased their winning percentage from .280 in 2008-09 to .741 going into Wednesday night's game against Milwaukee.
QUOTABLE II: "It feels good but we still have a lot of work to do. It's new to us (60 wins) we've never done it before but it does feel good. We just gotta keep trying to get better."
TURNING POINT: The Kings kept creeping closer in the fourth quarter and the Thunder saw a 24-point lead shrink down to 10 with just under five minutes to play. Rookie Jeremy Lamb then had a put back and dropped in two floaters to give the Thunder a little more breathing room and secure the win.
QUOTABLE III: "They've got some phenomenal players that make great plays but I thought our guys did a great job of trying to battle this basketball team but we turned it over a little too much and got them in transition too much."
-- Kings coach Keith Smart
HOT: Durant was 7-for-12 (18 points) at halftime and he was 3-for-4 (11 points) in the second half. ... Lamb was 4-for-8 (eight points) in the fourth quarter. ... The Kings were 12-for-22 (54.5 percent) in the fourth quarter.
NOT: The Kings started the game shooting just 33.3 percent (7-for-21) through the first quarter. ... Cousins and Jason Thompson were each 1-for-5 in the opening quarter. ... Westbrook started just 2-for-8. ... OKC shot just 33.3 percent (9-for-27) in the final 12 minutes.
INSIDE THE ARENA: The 106th consecutive sell-out inside Chesapeake Energy Arena.
GOOD MOVE: Brooks said before the game he wanted his defense to control Cousins and in the first half it certainly did. Even without low post defender Kendrick Perkins who sat out with tightness in his right hamstring, OKC held Cousins to just five points on 1-for-6 shooting in the first 24 minutes.
BAD MOVE: The Thunder dominated this game in the painted area scoring 62 points but too many times OKC settled for a long range jumper instead of taking the ball inside. Those 3-balls OKC kept firing up seldom went in (5-for-21 halfway through the fourth quarter).
NOTABLE: Kings guard Tyreke Evans had to be carried off the court and then into the Sacramento locker room late in the first quarter with what appeared to be a serious injury to his left knee. It was later diagnosed as a strained left quad. Evans did not return to the game.
UP NEXT: For the Kings, Wednesday vs. L.A. Clippers. For the Thunder, Wednesday vs. Milwaukee. Playoffs will begin Saturday or Sunday in Oklahoma City.