In a game that was a lot closer at the end than it should’ve been, the Sacramento Kings were able to outlast the Oklahoma City Thunder 103-99.
This game looked all but over with 5:48 left to go with the Kings leading 98-85. And with the Thunder struggling offensively, a 13-point lead with less than six minutes to go looked insurmountable.
But the Kings are the Kings, which allowed the Thunder to come back and cut it to a one-point deficit with 1:09 off a 14-2 run.
However, the Kings were able to close it out as the Thunder failed to score another point for the rest of the game.
The Thunder really needed this loss as the Pistons and Cavaliers — two teams ahead of the Thunder in the lottery standings — both lost their games tonight in close fashion as well.
The Thunder now own sole possession of the fourth-worst record in the NBA and are 0.5 games back of the Minnesota Timberwolves for the third-worst record.
Darius Bazley was the Thunder’s best player tonight as he finished with 24 points and 11 rebounds in terms of individual performances.
Tuesday was also Gabriel Deck’s best game in the NBA since coming overseas last week. Deck finished with 16 points in 16 minutes. I would like to see Deck play more in this final portion of the regular season to give him as much experience as possible before he undergoes his first NBA offseason of his life. It will help give him a taste as to what to expect for next season.
“He’s gotten better every game. He gets a lot into the game,” said Thunder Head Coach Mark Daigneault postgame about Deck. “Plays much bigger than he is, playing much tougher than his size.”
Jaylen Hoard is another guy who played a lot more minutes tonight than usual with 16. Hoard took advantage of the opportunity with nine points and seven rebounds. In terms of his on-court demeanor, Hoard looked confident and looked like he belonged on the court against the Kings.
Josh Hall also received an injection of minutes as he played 22 and finished with seven points and seven rebounds. This was a nice game for Hall, considering all of the injury issues he has struggled with this season.
Hoard and Hall are two other players I would like to see get an uptick in minutes in these final regular-season games just to find out if they can show anything to the team to include them in their plans for next season.
Lu Dort struggled shooting as he went 3-of-16 overall for 10 points. I am not too concerned with Dort’s recent high volume inefficiency; this was expected with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Al Horford out. Teams can focus more on Dort offensively and pack the paint when he drives.
This should not be a major concern in the long term as Dort will not be expected to carry such a huge offensive load as he has in recent weeks.
It should also be important to point out that Daigneault said postgame that Dort has been dealing with an ongoing hip injury, and perhaps that has played a role in his poor shooting.
Regardless, if Dort can become a good outside shooter with the ability to drive to the basket respectfully, that will be a huge win for the Thunder franchise.
Speaking of SGA, Daigneault provided an update on his status pregame that left many fans alarmed. He noted that SGA has been dealing with a significant tear on his plantar fascia in the pregame pressers.
This is a different injury than what the Thunder have been reporting, which was plantar fasciitis. If the significant tear is true, then this will grow a cause of concern for fans as their young point guard deals with feet issues that could be chronic if not treated correctly.
But considering that SGA has been wearing regular shoes on the bench since he last played on March 22, this raised confusion on the true status of SGA’s injury.
Another element to this update is that the Thunder continue to report SGA’s injury like plantar fasciitis.
Daigneault also noted that it wouldn’t make sense for SGA to rush back and play games hurt because so much of the franchise’s future rides on his health. He also said that he thinks SGA will try to play for Team Canada this summer.
Perhaps Daigneault misspoke, or perhaps this significant tear is a new development. Either way, it looks like SGA’s season is done.