Kevin Durant provided a vintage performance with 29 points (10-16 shooting), eight assists and seven rebounds in 37 minutes. He really got things going in the second quarter where he poured in 14 points and hit a pair of threes. Russell Westbrook turned in 21 points and eight assists as well.
The Thunder received plenty of production from their bench minus Kevin Martin.
Oklahoma native Daniel Orton provided 10 points and seven rebounds (five offensive) in what was easily the best performance of his young career. Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb combined for 18 points as well while Ronnie Brewer pulled down 13 total rebounds, five on the offensive glass.
The Kings outscored the Thunder 28-21 in the fourth quarter, but it wasn't enough to climb back into the game. Sacramento's bench outscored Oklahoma City's bench 53-32 including 12 points and 13 rebounds from former Thunder-member Cole Aldrich. Isaiah Thomas led the Kings with 16 points.
What is your initial reaction to tonight's game?
The Thunder looked sloppy in the first half, but thanks in part to Durant's performance, they cleaned things up throughout the game.
The bench was really impressive without Martin. Orton proved he's no slouch by nearly pulling in a double-double and Lamb helped hold off the Kings in the fourth quarter with eight points.
It was good to see the bench perform without their best scorer. Of course they were playing against Sacramento, but any time the second unit can gain confidence it works in the team's advantage.
It was also good to see Durant go off in a game that really didn't matter. One of the keys to postseason play in any sport is entering the tournament with a high level of momentum. Durant's performance down the stretch could prove to be one of the most important factors as the team enters the playoffs.
What do we take away from this game in light of the playoffs?
The win over the Kings locked up the top seed in the Western Conference, which is obviously huge considering they will now have home-court advantage throughout the West Playoffs.
It was also good to see the Thunder focus throughout the second half. After a sloppy start, Durant and company smoothed the game out and eventually extended their lead to 24. Seeing the most important player taking it as serious as a playoff game is always a sight for sore eyes.
What does this game mean to the Thunder going forward?
Going forward the Thunder can hang their hat on the fact their franchise has taken another step towards capturing an NBA title. They've now clinched the top seed in the west and a 60-win season. There's only one thing left to pad their resume: a championship.
"Daniel (Orton) came in and gave us good minutes," Brooks said. "We utilize Tulsa quite a bit and he's done a good job of getting better down in the D-League and it's paid off."
"To get 60 wins is quite an accomplishment," Brooks said. "We've come a long way through all the hard work the organization has put in. They've put in a lot of effort and it's paid off. 60 wins is quite an accomplishment and not a lot of teams do it."
Durant needs 70 points against the Bucks Wednesday to capture the scoring title. Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman asked him if he can get it.
Durant's reply: "Ill try if you want me to...Alright I'll try."
With 9:25 left in the game, Westbrook drained a 19-footer for his NBA-best 499th unassisted field-goal of the season. To put it in context, Westbrook has more unassisted makes than Durant, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant and former teammate James Harden.
Westbrook also received his second technical in the fourth quarter and was ejected from the game for the first time in his career.
Thunder Wonder: Kevin Durant, 29 points, 8 assists, 7 rebounds
Thunder Down Under: Daniel Orton, 10 points, 7 rebounds, 3 steals
Thunder Blunder: None
Thunder Plunderer: Cole Aldrich, 12 points & 13 rebounds against his former club
Next game: vs the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday, April 17th at 7PM CDT
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