The Sacramento Kings have not won at Chesapeake Energy Arena since its formation in 2008. With a 4-23 record against the Thunder overall, 0-13 on the road, the Kings were in Oklahoma City to take on the Thunder on Sunday evening.
Anticipated to be a high-scoring game, the Thunder and Kings rank second and fourth in scoring respectively. The difference tonight was going to be defense. Sacramento has been an atrocious defensive team and is giving up 108 points per game to opposing offenses. The Thunder aren’t much better, falling under the league average and giving up 102 a game.
Off to an immediately quick start, the Thunder were able to stretch the lead to as much as nine after a fast break layup from Russell Westbrook. In chippy early action, the Kings were able to draw three early fouls on Serge Ibaka and cut the deficit down to three by the end of the quarter.
Regardless of the stat sheet, Kings point guard Rajon Rondo had an incredibly impactful game. In the first quarter, Rondo assisted or scored on 16 of the Kings 25 points. Rondo had a great defensive effort and finished the game with seven points, 10 assists, and nine rebounds.
Forcing five turnovers, the Kings created a lot of second chances for themselves and were able to keep the game competitive. Attacking the basket, the Kings created every opportunity for them to take a commanding lead for themselves at the free-throw line, but could not convert. Shooting an abysmal 18-30 from the charity stripe, the Thunder were in complete control of the game regardless of their mistakes.
With a lack of movement in the offense, Sacramento played a lot of isolated basketball and couldn’t create many effective shots. In the third quarter specifically, the Kings were held to just three points in the first seven minutes of basketball. Russell Westbrook began to take over for the Thunder helped stretch the Thunder lead to 17. Finishing with another triple-double, Westbrook finished with 19 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists. It is his 14th triple-double in the last two years, doubling the amount of the next closest player, Rajon Rondo.
Down 12 to start the fourth, George Karl turned to his bench in order to provide any sort of offensive spark. After eight minutes of battling, the Kings took the lead for the first time of the night. Behind the defensive effort of Kosta Koufos and Omri Casspi, the Kings were able to stop the Thunder offense and create offense for themselves. Darren Collison had a huge game off of the bench and scored 10 of his 16 points to start the fourth.
Accompanied by another poor shooting night for DeMarcus Cousins, the Kings were unable to maintain the lead for long. Cousins finished 5-20 and missed two free throws with 43 seconds left to stretch the Kings lead to three.
The Thunder then took a lead on a clutch jumper from Kevin Durant with 23 seconds left. The Kings were held scoreless in the final 2:31 of the game and were outscored 10-0 during this time.
Rudy Gay had an effective scoring night, shooting 45 percent and finishing with 20 points and 7 rebounds.
Falling 98-95, Sacramento has now lost three in a row and fall to 7-15 on the season.
For the Thunder, they move to 12-8 on the season and currently hold the third seed in the Western conference. The Thunder play the Grizzlies tomorrow in Memphis and look to continue on their 6-4 stretch over the last 10 games.
(7-15, 2-8 away)
(12-8, 9-3 home)
7:00 PM ET, December 6, 2015
Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK
Sac: R. Gay 20 Pts, 7 Reb, 3 Ast, 3 Stl
Okc: R. Westbrook 19 Pts, 11 Reb, 10 Ast, 3 Stl