Oklahoma City used an almost wire-to-wire lead to beat the Sacramento Kings 110-94 on Saturday afternoon.
The Thunder improved to a season best 40-29 on the year. Their magic number is five.
“I thought our guys played exceptionally well in the first half,” Thunder head coach Billy Donovan said.
Russell Westbrook had 28 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds as he was going for his fifth straight triple-double. He fell short but his impact was immediate in the fourth quarter. With the Kings fighting back, Westbrook came in, nailed an and-one and then followed it with a Thunder money back. A 14-point lead had ballooned back 20 just like that.
“We did a good job putting together both sides of the ball,” Westbrook said.
Oklahoma City with Westbrook were on fire tonight. The MVP candidate was a game high +13 when on the floor today.
The Thunder won their fifth straight — the longest current streak in the NBA — and moved into a tie for fifth place in the Western Conference, pending the result of the Los Angeles Clippers’ game against Cleveland later Saturday.
“We had new guys in the trade,” Westbrook said. “It’s not easy to do that, we just picked it up finally.”
2 p.m. tip-offs can be tough, but for Oklahoma City they’ve found a way to play well. Their lone loss was a tough game against the Cavs on Jan. 29. Overall, the Thunder are now 5-1 when playing a day game.
“On that 2-game east coast swing and coming back from a 2 pm game, Donovan said. “I credit our guys for coming out and being ready to play.”
Oklahoma City pushed their lead out to double digits as a skip pass from Semaj Christon to Doug McDermott put the Thunder up 25-14 with 1:14 to go in the opening quarter.
“That was a huge play, game changer for us,” Westbrook said.
McDermott followed it with a fade away jumper and solid defense on the other side. McDermott who garnered a DNP in the win over San Antonio, found his rhythm tonight.
“We gotta find him,” Westbrook said. “He [McDermott] is a great shooter. When he gets his feet set, it’s going in.”
Oklahoma City led 63-41 at halftime.
Steven Adams finished with 16 points and 13 rebounds, his 14th double-double of the season. Enes Kanter came off teh bench, scoring 14 points on 5-of-10 shooting. The two were a physical duo that made things difficult for the tall bodies of the Kings.
“They did a good job making a physical game,” Westbrook said. “I thought our bigs did a good job making it physical.”
The Kings never came within 14 points in the fourth quarter. Westbrook’s dominance when he returned in the fourth quarter was too much to let the Kings back into it.
Oklahoma City now will host the Golden State Warriors on Monday night. The game is slated for a TNT broadcast with a 7 p.m. tip-off. Kevin Durant is still hurt, so some of the hatred may not be there. Oklahoma City is 0-3 vs. the Warriors this season.
KEYS TO THE GAME
Defend the three: A+
The Kings were the best three-point shooting team in the league since the All-Star break. Oklahoma City locked down on the Kings deep shooting. Sacramento only shot 5-of-21 from beyond the arc. Rookie Buddy Hield was 2-of-8 from three-point range.
Make your free throws: C
The Thunder went 18-of-25 from the charity stripe, below their season average. Which is about their average when they’re at home. In close games, you cannot do this. You have to make your free throws.
Flex your muscles: A+
Oklahoma City jumped out 6-0 and really never looked back, despite a small deficit at 10-9. They led by more than 20 points for a good chunk of the game. Overall, a quality performance against a team you should be doing this to on a regular basis.