The energy and play in the first half was apathetic at best. The play and the score reflected as so. However, even after falling behind by nine in the second half, the Oklahoma City Thunder fought back for a nice 95-88 win over the lowly Sacramento Kings on a frigid Monday night.
The Thunder improved to 24-20 on the season and have won back-to-back games, securing a strong hold on fifth place in the Western Conference.
The Thunder rallied from a 15-point first half deficit on the backs of the big three in their own ways. Despite Westbrook’s plethora of first half turnovers, if it wasn’t for him, the first half deficit of only six could’ve been 14. In the second half it was Carmelo Anthony and Paul George who finished with 20 and 18 points, respectively, fueling the Thunder’s comeback.
The Thunder trailed the Kings (13-30) at the break 54-48.
Oklahoma City’s defense held the Kings to 30.9 percent in the second half from the floor. It’s in stark contrast as 48 percent allowed in the first half.
Sacramento took a 58-49 lead with less than 40 seconds into the second half. It appeared it was going to be a replay of the first half. A Westbrook driving lay up, followed by three-pointers by Anthony and George tied the game up at 61-all with 7:15 left in the quarter.
Anthony hit a three to give Oklahoma City a 64-61 lead and their first lead in what felt like forever. Steven Adams cutting to the rim to give the Thunder a 68-66 lead with 4:18 remaining. Oklahoma City would never trail again.
A 41-16 run for the Thunder capped off the comeback in the face of the adversity they’ve struggled against all season.
With 2:51 left in the game, Westbrook was popped with two quick technical fouls, ejecting him from the contest. Westbrook was complaining about being hit in the face on a play where he was called for traveling. Official matt Boland T’d him quickly as the Thunder led 91-77.
Shortly after the Westbrook ejection, the NBA’s youngest official, Gediminas Petraitis, popped Billy Donovan with a technical foul. After the dust settled, the Thunder only led 91-83 with 2:51. The Thunder’s defense held the Kings to only one made bucket the final three minutes of the game.
After both the Thunder and Kings couldn’t score in the first 3:16 of the fourth, the Thunder responded to a Willie Cauley-Stein bucket with back-to-back Patrick Patterson three-pointers. Alex Abrines capped off the run with an 86-70 lead with 7:11 left in the game.
Oklahoma City will host the Los Angeles Lakers (15-28) on Wednesday night inside Chesapeake Energy Arena. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN, so those outside of the Thunder TV market will get to watch this one. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Keys to the Game
Defend the three: A
Oklahoma City held the Kings to 7-of-29 from the arc, including 3-of-14 in the second half. The Thunder’s ability to defend the perimeter really paid off. It’s a large part in why the Thunder were able to win this one.
Oklahoma City’s bench scored 23 points, including 10 from from Patterson, a season high. The key plays at the beginning of the fourth were instrumental in how Oklahoma City was able to extend the their lead at a crucial juncture in the contest.
Big Three: C
While the Big three combined for 57 of the 95 points, their first half performance earns them a C overall. It was a bad F in the first half. However, Anthony’s ability to contribute and Westbrook persistence really helped this team. They all can play better and must play better.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!