It wasn’t the prettiest game ever, but the Oklahoma City Thunder secured a 106-101 win over the Sacramento Kings on Military Appreciation Night at home.
The Thunder is now up to fourth in the standings for the Western conference playoff race. Tonight’s game puts them 11 games over .500 with a 40-29 record.
After Carmelo Anthony’s first three shots from downtown gave the Thunder its first nine points, the game quickly turned ugly for both teams. The first quarter ended with only a 19-16 lead for the Thunder, but the low scores definitely weren’t because of good defense.
The trend continued as both teams struggled to find a rhythm until Paul George finally started to heat up, scoring his first field goal beyond the arc with only 3:45 left in the second quarter. George finished the rest of the game with 21 points, six rebounds, and five assists, and he seemed to find his three-ball again after struggling since his lackluster performance at All-Star Weekend.
“My job is just to continue to keep going, continue to stay in attack mode,” George said after the game. “I’ll get in a rhythm here eventually where I’ll feel good on a nightly basis.”
Oklahoma City led 46-40 at halftime.
Corey Brewer also gained some momentum early and gathered 16 points, six rebounds, and two steals by the game’s final buzzer. His willingness to play his role and always be where he needs to be still seems to be a good fit for this team.
Steven Adams (six points, six rebounds) went toe-to-toe with his old friend Zach Randolph down low, but in the third quarter Randolph and Bogdan Bogdanovic committed what looked like an attempted mugging of Adams. Adams, who sprained his ankle in the last game against the Spurs, left the game shortly after with a left hip contusion. His status for the next game is unclear.
The Kings wouldn’t let go and mostly stayed within single digits, but Oklahoma City ended the night strong with Russell Westbrook getting his 99th career triple double (fourth most all-time) from 17 points, 10 rebounds, and 11 assists. Anthony put up 21 points and grabbed six rebounds and shot 5-of-7 from three-point land.
“They pack the paint,” Westbrook said. “Their game plan is to pack the paint, so we found open guys.”
The Thunder’s 44 percent three-point shooting and Sacramento’s struggles kept them in the game when they got sloppy (which was a lot of the time).
They will travel to Atlanta tomorrow to face off with the Hawks in the second night of this back-to-back. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.
Keys to the Game
Moving the ball: B
The ball was moving pretty good overall, but sometimes it got a little out of hand with several wild passes to no one. The first half had several bouts of waiting too long and unsuccessful drives, but the second half was more fluid and set up better shots. When they did swing the ball around, they spread the floor and dismantled the Kings defense.
Be aggressive on defense: B-
Defense was not a huge focus for the majority of the game. They got lucky in the beginning with Sacramento just not hitting their shots, but applied the pressure more towards crunch time. There weren’t very many deflections and only a couple steals from Brewer, but the Thunder was still able to protect the rim, especially in the fourth quarter.
Simply show up: A-
Oklahoma City came to play except for a couple stretches in the beginning and the middle. They took this team seriously and put forth a lot of effort to make sure they didn’t let the win slip by.We invite you to follow Thunder Digest on Twitter and like Thunder Digest on Facebook. Our Podcast is on iTunes. We also have a Thunder Digest Instagram account if you love fun Thunder photography!