Thunder vs. Sacramento Kings Game Recap – Dec. 6, 2015

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

The Thunder got a scare, but thanks to a raucous Chesapeake Energy Crowd and some clutch plays down the stretch, it came away victorious.

Huge defensive stops, a near-impossible long two-point jumper by Kevin Durant and two more crucial free throws by Durant were the difference down the stretch as the Thunder erased a seven-point deficit with three minutes left to beat the Sacramento Kings 98-95.

 

 

“We just stuck with it. We struggled, but that’s a sign of a good team,” Durant said. “We shouldn’t have been in that position, but we were, and kept fighting.”

The Thunder let a 17-point lead evaporate slowly throughout the end of the third quarter and start of the fourth quarter, and eventually the Kings gained control. Sacramento’s Marco Belinelli made a three to put the Thunder in a seven-point hole with 3:04 to go, but Russell Westbrook drained a three-pointer as a response to make it 93-89.

Rajon Rondo scored at the rim for the Kings, but Dion Waiters attacked, got fouled and made two free throws. Out of a timeout by Head Coach Billy Donovan, Durant caught and finished a mid-range leaner on the right flank. After a defensive stop, Westbrook took a pitch-ahead pass and got fouled in transition, knocking down one free throw.

DeMarcus Cousins then got fouled in the post but missed both free throws, setting up Durant to drain an incredible jumper going right - over the out-stretched arms of two defenders - to put the Thunder up 96-95 with 23 seconds to go.

 

 

“That’s what I’ve been dreaming about as a kid. You want those opportunities to take those shots,” Durant said. “I’ve been trusted my whole career. I’ve failed plenty of times and I’ve made shots as well. I just try to stay focused, stay disciplined in what I do and they went down for me.”

Needing to get one more stop, the Thunder switched everything defensively. Steven Adams was isolated on Rudy Gay and forced him right into a crowd. Durant jumped the driving lane to cause some chaos, and Adams made a steal.

 “Steven did a good job of veering him off so he didn’t have a straight-line drive,” Durant explained. “I saw the ball come loose and I just tried to get in there and muck it up a little bit, but Steven did all the work.”

“Our defense did a good job of clogging the paint and Steven did a good job of staying down and sliding his feet,” Westbrook said.

After a smart Thunder timeout, Durant snagged the in-bound pass and knocked down both free throws before the team dug in to force a missed desperation heave, ending the game and sending the crowd home happy.

 

Watch: Thunder Highlights

 

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Third Quarter Turning Point

The Thunder had let the Kings hang around for the entire first half, and the early portion of the third quarter. After turning the ball over three times during the first three-and-a-half minutes of the period, Donovan called a timeout to get his squad organized and ready for a push.

“Some things happened and it was starting to bleed into our energy. I told them that we’re not playing poorly right now, we had a couple things not go our way. We need to keep battling and fighting here,” Donovan explained. “Then in that third quarter we played really well.”

Serge Ibaka burst onto the scene after a foul-ridden first half, bringing a heap of energy out of the timeout. He grabbed two offensive rebounds on the same possession to make a put-back, then Westbrook slapped the ball off of Omri Casspi’s leg on the ensuing defensive stand.

Westbrook then hit Ibaka on a side pick and roll for a short jumper, then Westbrook made a steal. On the next play, Durant found Ibaka at the elbow for an open look, then Ibaka blocked a shot on the other end. The Thunder again got the ball to Ibaka, but this time he missed. No matter – Andre Roberson was there for a put-back and the 8-0 run forced Sacramento into calling a timeout.  

After one Koufos free throw, Kevin Durant drew a foul and knocked down two foul shots of his own. Two possessions later, Westbrook stole the ball and picked up momentum as he streaked down court, hammering home a nasty two-handed dunk that sent the crowd into a frenzy, capping a 12-1 spurt.

 

 

“We were playing at a really high level on both ends of the floor,” Donovan said. “We have to just keeping working at that, talking about that and keep trying to, when we practice, work on getting better at those things. That’s what it comes down to.”

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By the Numbers

6 – Thunder players who scored at least nine points, including a team-high 20 from Kevin Durant

10 – Assists for Russell Westbrook, in addition to 19 points and 11 rebounds for a triple-double

62-41 – The Thunder’s edge in rebounding, thanks to four players registering double-digit rebounds

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The Last Word

“It was good, especially at home to close out a game. We let them come back and gain momentum, but I thought we did a good job of sticking together and getting the win.” – point guard Russell Westbrook

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