Thunder at Sacramento Kings Game Recap – Feb. 29, 2016

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

SACRAMENTO – As the barrage of three-pointers rained down on Monday night, the Thunder’s lead exploded and Head Coach Billy Donovan and company got what they hoped for – a blowout road victory over the Sacramento Kings.

Thanks to an incredible offensive display, selfless ball movement and sharpshooting from all over the floor, the Thunder left for Los Angeles with a 131-116 win over the Kings, bouncing back from dropping two straight last week.

“We played well. It was good to see them come out and play the way they did,” Donovan said. “The bench did a great job and gave us a lift from a scoring standpoint.”

The defense was mostly solid throughout the night, allowing Sacramento to shoot just 44.9 percent from the field and just 7-for-25 (28.0 percent) shooting from behind the three-point line. 21 Thunder turnovers led to 29 Kings points - along with 17 fast break points - but the explosiveness of the balanced Thunder offense was too much for Sacramento to handle.

After a frustrating and physical six minutes to open the game, the Thunder settled in and got to its style of play to both counteract the Kings’ attack but also be more effective on offense. A huge catalyst was Enes Kanter, who scored eight points in a two-minute time span toward the end of the first quarter. He knocked down jump shots, scored in transition and finished around the rim through contact on his way to a perfect 11-for-11 shooting night and 23 points.

“On the road you’re going to have to weather some storm,” Donovan said. “It’s not going to go smooth from start to finish. We didn’t get off to a great start but we hung in there, battled and got some rhythm.”

“We did a great job of sticking together and playing the right way and it worked out for us,” point guard Russell Westbrook said.

Kanter wasn’t alone in his production from the reserve group, as Dion Waiters and Kyle Singler both got into the mix, each shooting 3-for-5 from the three-point line. Both players were critical, along with Randy Foye, to a second quarter flurry of three-pointers that turned a four-point lead into an 11-point advantage early in the quarter.

“We made the right plays, found the right guys, found wide open guys, guys were able to make shots and the ball was popping tonight, constantly moving,” Waiters explained. “Once we play like that and everybody gets a chance to play freely and enjoy it, it’s fun.”

“We all knew the ball was coming to us,” forward Kevin Durant added. “When you know the ball is coming, you’re always ready. All of those guys were ready.”

For the night the Thunder shot 14-for-34 (41.2 percent) from three-point range, including 8-for-17 by the bench, which scored a season-high 64 points and helped steady the team through a Kings run late in the third quarter. After Sacramento cut the Thunder’s lead to 85-81, Kanter scored an and-one dunk off a Durant pass, then Randy Foye knocked down his second three-pointer of the night. Waiters added a driving layup and Durant capped the burst with a free throw, putting the Thunder up 10 heading into the fourth quarter, where it used a 9-0 spurt to break the game open for good.

“Enes did a great job of being patient,” Durant said. “He got a few easy baskets in the third quarter and was able to get us going.

Durant scored 27 points to go with 10 rebounds and six assists, while Westbrook put together a 20-point, 15-assist, 13-rebound triple double, eclipsing double digits in all three categories for the fifth time this season before the end of the third quarter. It was the first time in Thunder history that four players scored 20-or-more points in the same game as the Thunder shot 57.3 percent from the field and racked up 28 assists.

“We were moving the basketball. We did a good job of playing together and playing the right way,” Westbrook said.

“The ball really moved and we created penetration. The floor was spread and opened up,” Donovan added. “We generated a lot of threes. It was one of those games where Kyle, Enes and Dion were on the receiving end of a lot of that and it was good to see them step up the way they did.”

 

Watch: Thunder Highlights

 

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By the Numbers

5 – The number of times this season that Russell Westbrook has recorded a triple-double before the end of the third quarter. The rest of the league has only done it six total times this year

6 – Players who scored in double figures for the Thunder, thanks to 28 total assists

64- Bench points for the Thunder, including 23 from Enes Kanter, 22 from Dion Waiters and 11 from Kyle Singler

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The Last Word

“It feels good. We have to take positive steps and keep moving forward from this and keep building.” – guard Dion Waiters

 

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