Thunder vs. Sacramento Kings Game Recap – March 18, 2017

By Nick Gallo | Thunder Basketball Writer | mailbag@okcthunder.com

The Thunder can find a spark from anywhere, and has proven during this five-game win streak that it can draw inspiration throughout the roster. So this afternoon in a 110-94 against the Sacramento Kings it was no surprise that it was rookie Semaj Christon that provided the highlight play of the game.

After a Thunder turnover the Kings raced down court for a fast break chance. Soaring in from mid-court, Christon shocked all of Chesapeake Energy Arena when he showed off his athleticism and swatted a layup attempt off the backboard. The ball ended up in Victor Oladipo’s hands and was quickly whisked away to Doug McDermott who was spotted up behind the three-point line, ready to drain a transition three.

This is fun! #ThunderBasketball

A post shared by Oklahoma City Thunder (@okcthunder) on

“That was a huge play. It was a changer for us. It got us a three,” Westbrook said of his fellow point guard’s block. “That’s what (Christon) has been doing since he’s been in, defensively changing the game.”

The sequence wasn’t essential to the win, but in an otherwise undramatic affair, it was an exciting two-way display of what the Thunder can be at the height of its powers. For the entire first half, that’s exactly what Head Coach Billy Donovan’s club displayed. Over the first 24 minutes, the Thunder held Sacramento to just 35.0 percent shooting, including just a 3-for-11 mark from behind the arc, while out-rebounding the Kings by 12.

“Defensively we did a good job of playing together on both sides of the ball,” point guard Russell Westbrook said.

“We played great collective defense,” Oladipo added. “When we do that we give ourselves a chance to win any game.”

Defense shines as Thunder leads Kings by 22 at halftime. OKC holds SAC to 35% shooting. #ThunderUp

A post shared by Oklahoma City Thunder (@okcthunder) on

The Thunder’s defense didn’t stay perfect for the entire night, and the natural temptation to let up a bit when up by as many as 27 points set in during the fourth quarter. The lead never dipped below 14, however, thanks to the playmaking prowess of Russell Westbrook and some sharpshooting by McDermott. The Thunder’s offense overall was balanced, as Westbrook racked up 28 points, eight rebounds and 10 assists, Steven Adams and Enes Kanter combined for 30 points.

“Our bigs did a good job of making it physical,” Westbrook said.

The x-factor was McDermott, however, who scored 21 points on 8-of-9 shooting, the most points he’s put up since joining the Thunder. He scored five quick points on pull-up jumpers in a 40 second span at the end of the first quarter, and that sprung him loose.

“(McDermott) did a good job of running up the floor, getting ahead of the ball and spacing very well,” Westbrook said. “He’s obviously a great shooter, and when he gets his feet set, you can count it.”

As the game wore on and McDermott found open opportunities in transition, the Kings started rushing out to him, which led to a nifty pump-fake and floater in the lane, showing off his developing all-around game.

“I’ve been working on it because they’re flying at me pretty hard. I have to have alternatives,” McDermott explained. “Credit the coaching staff here that I’ve been working with every morning before practice and after practice. I just have to continue to get better.”

Watch: Doug McDermott highlights:


Highlights: Thunder Tops Kings

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

By the Numbers

8-for-9 – Shooting numbers for Doug McDermott on the night, leading to 21 points thanks to four three-pointers

41.2 – Shooting percentage the Thunder held the Kings to on the night, including just a 5-for-21 from three mark

49-35 – Rebounding advantage for the Thunder, led by Steven Adams who racked up 13, including four on the offensive end

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

The Last Word

“You want to be able to come out and play with some energy and to play well. To start the game our guys played exceptionally well… I give our guys a lot of credit for coming out and being ready to play.” – Head Coach Billy Donovan

Saturday afternoon win on the floor!

A post shared by Oklahoma City Thunder (@okcthunder) on