2 days after one of the worst performances of his career, Russell Westbrook goes for 18 points and 14 assists as the Oklahoma City Thunder defeat the Sacramento Kings XXXX
Sacramento came out on fire tonight, initially building a 23-9 lead midway through the first, but it was all downhill from there. The Thunder ended the first with a 18-7 run to bring it back within 3. OKC grabbed the lead early in the second quarter and never looked back.
From the initial 14 point deficit, the Thunder outscored the Kings 77-38 over the next two and a half quarters. Both Westbrook and Kevin Durant had double doubles. Durant also shared the leading scorer title with Kevin Martin tonight, they both had 24.
The Sacramento Kings were led by Tyreke Evans, with 16, and DeMarcus Cousins and Jason Thompson, who each had 14.
What is your initial reaction to tonight's result?
The Kings started out hot and it looked as if the Thunder might lose their second straight. Kevin Durant then had a breakaway dunk which seemingly sparked the Thunder into action. The Kings only shot 38% from that point on, thanks to an impressive defensive effort by Kendrick Perkins.
After Wednesday's loss, many, including myself, put most of the responsibility on Westbrook. He had played one of the worst games of his career and at times looked to be completely flustered. Tonight was a completely different story, bounced back in both scoring and distributing the ball, ending the night with a season high 14 assists, including 8 in the second.
What was, overall, the main reason why the Thunder won?
Offensively the Thunder have gone one of two ways this season. Either Durant and Westbrook carry the load, scoring a large majority of the Thunder's points, or, as we saw tonight, a more balanced game, in which we see 5 or more players contribute, with no one getting a bulk of the points. We've typically seen the latter on nights when the Thunder easily put away their opponents.
When the Thunder are able to get Sefolosha and Ibaka going offensively, their opponents are forced to guard all 5 players on the floor, and cover Durant one on one. Which brings us to the following
What was a key statistic to understanding the game?
Durant shot 7-12 tonight, which is a result of the Thunder's balance scoring tonight. Although Durant didn't shoot the ball as much tonight, when he did he was extremely efficient when he did. Durant also had 11 boards on the night, OKC as a whole outrebounded the Kings 47-39.
Kendrick Perkins also had an impressive night defensively against DeMarcus Cousins. In the first quarter Cousins went 4-6 when both he and Perkins were on the floor. However, Perkins must of figured something out as he held Cousins to only 5 points, on 2-9 shooting for the rest of the game.
What does this game mean to the Thunder tonight and going forward?
Tonight might have been the last time the Thunder visit Sacramento, the team looks likely to move to Seattle, which should begin an epic Sonics vs Thunder rivalry. Next time these two teams meet it could be a huge spectacle.
The Thunder improve to 9-1 following a loss this season. They are 3-2 on this road trip heading into Sunday's matchup with the Lakers. If you're anything like me, you've likely heard more than enough about the Lakers' struggles this year. The Thunder match up extremely well against the Lakers, and have gone 9-2 since Kendrick Perkins joined the Thunder.
After the Lakers on Sunday the Thunder have the next three days off before a match up against the Grizzles in OKC.
Thunder Wonder: Russell Westbrook, 18 points, 14 rebounds
Thunder Down Under: Kendrick Perkins, 2 points, 3 assists, 4 rebounds.
Thunder Blunder: DeAndre Liggins, 3 turnovers in 14 minutes.
Thunder Plunderer: Tyreke Evans, 16 points, 4 rebounds.
Next game: @ Los Angeles Lakers, on Sunday Jan. 27, @ 2:30 CDT
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