What is your initial reaction to tonight's result?
The Thunder outright dominated this one. The game was basically over by the half. The Kings had some success early pressuring the Thunder and forcing a few airballs, but a huge second quarter run capped off by a TOTALLY NASTY Westbrook dunk. It was so nasty, Brian Davis had to throw in a few "OOOOOH"s.
The main reason for the Thunder's domination tonight, as I said in the preview, was stopping the Kings penetration offense. Once the Kings weren't able to drive and started shooting threes, the Thunder were able to capitalize on their misses and start pressuring. The result was a huge Thunder run in the second quarter, and a demoralized Kings team.
Admittedly, the Kings tread water in the third while the Thunder missed a few gimmes or got a bit sloppy, but Keith Smart pulled his starters midway through the third and never really looked back. The Thunder's lead steadily increased, and the game was over.
What was tonight's turning point?
The run at the end of the first half. The Kings were keeping up with the Thunder and actually threatening to take the lead until Brooks called a timeout with 5:56 to go. They came out of the timeout screaming, with both Durant and Westbrook hitting mid-range shots and Durant completing an And 1. The Kings weren't pressuring well and getting out on the break, resulting in a lot of bricked threes. The Thunder continued to pile on the points and make mincemeat of the Kings interior. They dominated the possession game, and outrebounded the Kings 7-1 over that stretch.
What was, overall, the main reason the Thunder won?
I already mentioned the defense, so I'll focus on the possession game here. The Thunder did a good job of dominating the boards, which turned out to be a major key. They did a bad job of keeping down turnovers, especially Kevin Durant. But everything equalled out and both teams ended up shooting a dead even number of field goals, with the Thunder getting far more trips to the line. Even without the free throws, there's no way the Kings will beat you unless they've taken more attempts, simply because of how poor their shot selection is. If you can keep the number of shots taken anywhere close to even, you've already won, unless they're getting a lot of fouls.
What is a key statistic to understanding tonight's game?
Hm, looks like I exhausted my statbank earlier. One epic Durant to Westbrook alley-oop?
What does this game mean for the Thunder today and moving forward?
The game lets them keep their Western Conference lead, after the Spurs defeated the Grizzlies yesterday. They hold a one game lead. It's doubtful that the Clippers or Lakers could sneak back into the picture, but the win does put the Thunder one game closer to shutting them out of it. Also, the win evens the season series with the Kings, who we see one last time on April 24th.
Thunder Wonder: I'll give it to Kendrick Perkins, because this article has been approved by the never hate on Perkins police.
Thunder Down Under: Serge Ibaka and his 7 blocks. His numbers have been just off the charts this season.
Thunder Blunder: Cole Aldrich, for failing to provide his ceremonial garbage time dunk.
Thunder Plunderer: Isaiah Thomas, for an efficient offensive performance.
Next Game: At the Minnesota Timberwolves, Saturday, April 14th, 7 PM Central Daylight Time.