The Oklahoma City Thunder has struggled with the Sacramento Kings in every matchup this season, and tonight was no different, but the Thunder was able to get the 106-101 win to wrap up a four-game stretch in Oklahoma City. The win puts the Thunder at 11 games over .500 for the first time all season, and for the time being, they sit at fourth in the Western Conference standings.
After scoring only two points against the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday, it was the Melo show to start the game as Carmelo Anthony hit three threes in the first three minutes to score the first nine points for Oklahoma City.
The final nine minutes of the opening period did not go so smoothly, however. The Thunder shot a mere 6/19 (31.6%) in the first quarter, and the offense could never really get anything going. The defense, on the other hand, did a solid job of holding Sacramento, who also struggled to make shots, and after twelve minutes of play, Oklahoma City was on top 19-16.
The second quarter began in the same fashion that the first quarter ended, and the lack of offense from both teams was downright offensive. With only three minutes left in the first half, Oklahoma City led Sacramento 33-28, and then out of nowhere, both teams started knocking down shots. Paul George caught fire from deep as he hit three of four from three after missing his first five shots overall, and the offense finally looked like it had some life. Over half of the second quarter’s total points were scored in those final three minutes, and at halftime, the Thunder held a 46-40 advantage over the Kings.
The third quarter looked like it might be a typical one for the Thunder as they struggled right out of halftime allowing the Kings to get within one less than three minutes in, but Russell Westbrook was able to keep Oklahoma City on top. Westbrook scored all eight of his third quarter points in the first three-and-a-half minutes to give the Thunder a boost.
Paul George and Carmelo Anthony continued their hot hands from three, combining for 13 points in the period, but the defense let up, and at the end of the quarter, Sacramento had taken their first lead of the game at 79-78.
The Thunder’s bench opened up the fourth quarter with potentially the most important minutes of the game on the horizon, and they handled it well. A little over four minutes into the period, the second unit had powered the Thunder to a 10-6 scoring advantage to retake the lead 88-85. Oklahoma City wouldn’t let Sacramento get close from that point forward, and Russell Westbrook would end up getting his 20th triple-double of the season and 99th of his career with 17 points, 11 assists, and 10 rebounds.
3 Quick Thoughts
- Corey Brewer Continues to Impress: The level at which Brewer has played in such a short time is mind-blowing. He came in with literally almost no time to adjust to his new team, and his immediate impact cannot be understated. As a starter, the Thunder is 3-0, and Brewer is averaging averaging 15 points on 54% from the field, 50% from three, 100% from the free throw line, and 4.3 rebounds. If he can maintain this level of play, Oklahoma City has a good shot to make some noise at the end of the season and into the playoffs.
- Give the Bench Some Credit: Oklahoma City’s bench averages a 28th-ranked 25.9 points per game, and tonight, they only scored 25 points, but they deserve some credit. While the total points is nothing impressive, the timeliness of the scoring cannot be ignored. The second unit continues to get big-time buckets, and when it comes down to it, they’re flat out fun to watch at times. The most exciting play of the game was a defensive play that led to an alley-oop from Russell Westbrook to Jerami Grant, so enjoy this video:
- Keep On Grinding: After back-to-back solid wins, tonight’s victory was not all that pretty. The defense was solid outside of the third quarter, and the offense had its moments, but the Thunder could not get both ends of the floor to line up for most of the game, Nevertheless, a win is a win, and Oklahoma City continues to move up the in the Western Conference. There is still a month of the regular season left to be played, but the Thunder are doing some good things to finish strong.
On the Road Again
After going 3-1 during a four-game homestand, the Thunder now heads out on the road to take on the Hawks on the second night of a back-to-back tomorrow in Atlanta. The Thunder defeated the Hawks 120-117 on December 22 off a Russell Westbrook buzzer-beater from three. Atlanta has officially been eliminated from playoff contention, but Oklahoma City has plenty to play for as they hope to hold on to a top seed and maintain homecourt advantage in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs. Tip-off is set for 6:30 PM CT and will be televised on FSOK. The game will also be broadcast on the radio on WWLS 98.1 FM.
Be sure to tune in tomorrow before the game at 5:15 PM CT for our latest episode of Thunder Things with the Thunder Guys on Facebook Live or download the Crossover Radio app on the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.
Article written by Zack Low. Follow @TheThunderGuys on Twitter & Instagram, and like us on Facebook.