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Thunder vs Kings, final score: Oladipo, Kanter, and Westbrook triple-double lead OKC to 122-118 win

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“I wanted to breathe smoke”

Bennett Berry

box score | Sactown Royalty

The Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Sacramento Kings on the road, 122-118. Behind the 20th triple-double on the season by Russell Westbrook (36-11-10, 4 steals, 7 TOs), the Thunder got back in the win column and moved 8 games over .500 once again. The game, which is the 2nd of 6 consecutive road games and the first of a back-to-back (Clippers are tomorrow), was an up-and-down affair. The Thunder would play stretches of brilliant ball, only to follow it up by sloppy play which allowed the Kings to get back into it.

In fact, OKC’s inability to put away the Kings nearly cost them the game. Though the Thunder were up by 12 with under 2 minutes to play and by 9 with 30 seconds to play, OKC needed late game free throw shooting and a key defensive stop to finally seal the win. The roller-coaster affair was in part fueled by an extremely poor officiating game that both helped and hurt both teams throughout. The two teams ended up with a combined 81 free throws attempted on the night, which bore out more than anything the referees’ inability to really hone in on how physical this game should have been expected to be, given that it featured Steven Adams and DeMarcus Cousins among others.

There was plenty to like and a handful of things to dislike in this win, so for a quick run-down:

Like

  • Russell Westbrook, after a somewhat sloppy 1st half where he looked like he had heavy legs, finished the 2nd half with 25 points on a blistering 9-12 shooting, including 4-4 from 3-point range, 4 assists, and only 2 turnovers in 18 minutes of play, including the steal and bucket that sealed the win.
  • Enes Kanter did serious damage on the interior all night, but particularly in the 1st half, on his way to 29-12-2 in 32 minutes of play. His efforts were in part a function of the Kings’ inability to stop anything at the rim, a scenario where Kanter thrives.
  • Victor Oladipo had a fantastically efficient game (possible exception: 1-7 from three), finishing with 23 points on 7-14 shooting, often presenting himself as a key mismatch vs the Kings.
  • The Thunder free throw weakness is morphing into a strength, as OKC went 33-41 (81%) for the game.
  • After Kings forward Rudy Gay helped his team get back into things in the 2nd quarter, it was a delight to watch Andre Roberson essentially make Gay vanish in the 2nd half.
  • Alex Abrines: clutch.
  • OKC got its revenge from their embarrassing display on Nov. 23.

Did not like

  • OKC gave up 72 points in the 2nd half, and nearly blew a double-digit lead with under 2 minutes to play against a team that was 7 games under .500.
  • The poor defensive outing (again, in part because of the horrendous refereeing), was largely due to the fact that Boogie Cousins was allowed to throw Steven Adams to the floor, where he knocked his head on the court and didn’t return after medical examination. No foul, eh?
  • Enes Kanter, bless him, needs to have the basic discipline to stay down on pump fakes, especially against Cousins 25 feet from the rim.
  • 28 threes is a lot of threes for a team that is not good at shooting threes.
  • Domantas Sabonis has hit the rookie wall. Just make it to all-star weekend, kid. You need to find your legs again.
  • Cameron Payne...still waiting for it.

Next game: Tomorrow night @ Los Angeles Clippers at 9:30PM CST.

post script

Many of you have been wondering about the transition that has taken place over the past week at WTLC, and possibly why I have been largely silent. Transition, especially the unexpected kind, is never easy, and there have been a lot of behind-the-scenes adjustments that have been required as well which have necessitated my attention.

The change is by and large family business, so I won’t be addressing any specifics in this space, now or ever. But I can say that I have been working with Marina for 7 years on this site, and it has been one of the most rewarding experiences I could have ever imagined, by far surpassing and equipping me with opportunities I could have never dreamed. I will miss working with her, I consider her my friend now and forever.

Moving forward is never easy to do when change occurs, but life makes no promises. All we can do is have the resolve to commit to the next moment - to work hard; the next person - to treat kindly; and the next opportunity - to seize with passion. To remain steadfast, even though what once was is not now, but what is to come holds the potential to be great as well.

I suppose all I can write is this - let us not become weary in doing good things for each other both in following this team as well as in life, for future harvests of hope and joy can still be reaped at the proper time. We are still the Loud Citizens. And this is our City.