Regular Season Recap: Thunder vs Kings

KINGS 110

THUNDER 118
5 Assists for Derek Fisher, the highest for him as a member of the Thunder and part of a 22-assist night for the team

8 Rebounds for Russell Westbrook to go along with six assists and 13 points, part of a 43-34 Thunder rebounding edge

6 Number of Thunder players who scored in double figures (Durant, Cook, Westbrook, Fisher, Sefolosha and Perkins)

11 Number of players who both played and scored for the Thunder on the night

19 Points for Daequan Cook on 6-for-11 shooting. All of his points came in the fourth quarter

32 Points for Kevin Durant, expanding his NBA best points per game average

33-for-36 Free throw shooting numbers for the Thunder, led by a 15-for-16 effort by Durant

36-24 Scoring advantage for the Thunder in the fourth quarter

The Thunder finishes the regular season with a home game against the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night. Game time is 7:00 p.m. Central and will air live on Fox Sports Oklahoma and the Thunder Radio Network.

The Thunder then will host the first game of round one of the playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena on either Saturday or Sunday.
GAME IN REVIEW


RECAP:
The Sacramento Kings had built a 13-point lead midway through the third quarter, but that double-digit deficit was no deterrent for the Thunder, whose second unit played with life, energy and fire that boosted it to a 118-110 victory. Led by Daequan Cook’s unbelievably hot-shooting 19-point fourth quarter and the steady ball-handling from the veteran floor general Derek Fisher, the Thunder chipped away at the Kings lead and never trailed again after a Fisher bucket with 6:27 remaining.

“The second unit came in and gave us a scoring punch when we needed it,” Head Coach Scott Brooks said. “(Cook) had a stretch where he was hitting big shot after big shot. I thought Derek did a good job of really leading that second unit closing out the game. When we had to get a bucket, we found a good shot, made a good play and got the defensive stops when we needed it.”

After starting the game 0-for-2 shooting, Cook proceeded to knock down 6-of-9 shots in the final 12 minutes of regulation, including 4-of-5 three-pointers and 3-of-4 foul shots. Once Cook got going, it was obvious that Fisher and his other teammates were looking to find him on the wing, as Nick Collison and Cole Aldrich set firm screens to free him up. After the game, Cook was humble in giving credit to his teammates and noting that it is his job to come in and drain shots when the team needs an offensive boost.

“I was in a great rhythm, I felt pretty good out there,” Cook said. “Guys were giving me good looks and I was knocking them down… I’m never going to stop working. At the end of the day I know my role on this team and it’s important for me to continue to work every day towards that role and continue to get better as a player and as a teammate.”

It was a gutsy move by Coach Brooks to leave the bench in for the entire fourth quarter, but players like Cook realized at about the 6:00 mark that if they hadn’t been pulled yet, they weren’t going to be. With that knowledge in hand, the five Thunder subs (Cook, Fisher, Collison, Aldrich and Royal Ivey) played with a combination of speed and physicality that overwhelmed the Kings. Aldrich, who played 16 minutes tonight, hadn’t seen more than 10 minutes in a game since March 10, but was ready for action.

“You never know when you’re going to get called, and tonight was one of those nights where your name gets called and you just have to go out and play,” Aldrich said. “We were having a great time out there. We’re defending, we’re playing the way that our second unit is going to play throughout the playoffs because we like to get after it, defend and rebound and get out and run a little bit. It was a good fourth quarter for us.”

It’s essential for Brooks and his staff to have a reliable second unit to depend upon heading into the playoffs, and it made the bench’s 48 points on the night more impressive considering the absence of James Harden from the lineup. For players like Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, who were exuberant in their congratulations to the second unit throughout the final 12 minutes, it was special to see the reserves pull through in winning time.

“It was great, they did a good job and it shows that our bench is one of the best in the league,” Westbrook said. “They’ve been doing that for us all season long. I’m thankful we got the win.”

TURNING POINT:
The Thunder second unit scratched and clawed from the end of the third quarter until the final buzzer of the game, erasing a 16-4 Kings run to begin the third quarter. With 1:19 remaining in the third, the Thunder trailed by seven points at 84-77, but thanks to four quick points by Kevin Durant at the end of the quarter and five straight points by Daequan Cook on jumpers assisted by Derek Fisher to start the fourth quarter, the Thunder took an 87-86 lead with 11:16 remaining in the game. Finally, the last Thunder charge happened with 1:52 remaining in the game, when it clung to a slim 106-105 lead. Derek Fisher got fouled on a three-point attempt, knocking down all three shots, then responded to a DeMarcus Cousins bucket with a tough driving scoop shot to make it 111-107. After Cole Aldrich forced a missed shot and picked up a rebound, Fisher then found Cook for his final three-pointer, a transition jumper from the corner that gave the Thunder a 114-107 lead with 44.9 seconds remaining, and the win.

“Daequan was phenomenal in that fourth,” Durant said. “He and D-Fish (Fisher) ignited everybody, got the crowd into the game and we got a good win. It was good for our second group to get that confidence.”

PLAYS THE BOXSCORE WON’T SHOW, FIRST HALF:
Kendrick Perkins sets a perfect screen to free up Kevin Durant for a three-pointer at the top of the key to open up the game, then Durant finds Thabo Sefolosha for a three-pointer at the top of the key on the next possession… Russell Westbrook smartly exploits an Isaiah Thomas on Sefolosha matchup, getting Thabo the ball in a spot to post up and score with the foul… Perkins comes down with a tough defensive board, which immediately leads to a mid-range jumper… Durant slides through the lane for a layup, then Westbrook hits Durant for an open three-pointer… Perkins sets a great off-ball screen for Westbrook, who then dumps it off to Perkins for a hook shot, then Perkins returns the favor with a huge screen to free up Westbrook for an elbow jumper…. Great hustle by Westbrook to bring in an offensive rebound then draw a foul, then Nick Collison gets back in transition to slap away a pass… Perfect dump off pass from Westbrook to Perkins for a dunk, then Westbrook snares a defensive board and draws a foul… Beautiful hesitation move by Durant to shake his defender and hit a floater as the shot clock wound down… Two strong defensive boards by Nazr Mohammed, one of which Derek Fisher takes down and knocks in a leaner off the glass… Collison drops off a nice pass to Mohammed for a layup, then Collison draws a charge… Quick hands from Fisher to make a steal, then Collison and Westbrook combine for a steal that leads to a massive open floor dunk… Westbrook with a massive swat from behind to get possession, then Serge Ibaka hustles and flies into the sideline before blocking a driving attempt on the defensive end… Tough offensive rebounding by both Ibaka and Perkins, which Ibaka puts back with a layup… Sefolosha makes a beautiful no-look pass to Perkins for a jam after a nice hustle play from Durant to start the fast break.

PLAYS THE BOXSCORE WON’T SHOW, SECOND HALF:
Nice hustle on the glass by Ibaka to get positioning and grab an offensive board, then Westbrook drives and hits a moving Ibaka for a mid-range jumper… Emphatic block by Durant on a Tyreke Evans fast break layup attempt… Westbrook makes another block and saves the ball inbounds to Sefolosha for a fast break dunk, then Sefolosha and Perkins combine to make a steal, leading to a run-out and two Durant free throws… Westbrook sets a nice pick and Fisher hits Durant for a three-pointer, then Collison hits Cole Aldrich underneath for a big dunk… Aldrich plays tough, physical defense on DeMarcus Cousins, then Durant snags a one-handed rebound before Westbrook needles a one-handed bounce pass to Collison for a layup… Collison hustles back in transition defense to force a turnover, then Durant stays aggressive to get to the foul line… Daequan Cook makes a perfect box out to grab a defensive board, then Collison pulls down an offensive rebound and flips it to Durant for a floater… Collison sets a perfect screen for Cook, who receives the pass from Fisher, squares up and hits a jumper, then the Fisher-Cook combo team up again, this time for three with a foul!... Incredible job by Cook to run to the corner on a Royal Ivey drive to receive the pass and knock down a three-pointer, then Cook draws a foul on a three-point attempt and hits all three free throws… Cook curls around a screen at the top of the key and drains another three-pointer, then Collison hustles and snags an offensive rebound and draws a foul… Nice little shake-and-bake from Fisher to get to the rim and hit a floater… Incredible hustle and effort from Aldrich to track down a loose ball and get it to Cook for a jumper, then Cook saves a ball inbounds to keep possession… Royal Ivey knocks down a jumper off an Aldrich screen, then Cook spins and hits Collison for a jumper… Fisher smartly catches Evans in a bad spot and draws a foul on a three pointer, then Fisher drives the lane and hits a beautiful scoop shot… Cook and Aldrich hustle to grab a loose rebound, then Fisher hits Cook in transition for a corner three-pointer as Westbrook and company get the crowd into it… Solid defense on the final two trips down court by the Thunder to seal the victory.



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