Kevin Durant “couldn’t wait” for it to be over and now he has his wish. With an easy victory over the Sacramento Kings, Kevin Durant wasn’t required to play heavy minutes or rack up the points like has has done for the Oklahoma City Thunder all season long. Instead, Durant was able to play just 30 odd minutes and get some rest ahead of a huge clash tomorrow against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Durant still racked up 23 points on just 13 shot attempts and added 4 rebounds and 4 assists in another complete outing.
The Oklahoma City Thunder wanted to come out and make a statement in this one. During this road trip, the Thunder’s defense has been average at best, and they had lost their previous two game while giving up over 100 points in each of the defeats. There wouldn’t be a repeat performance.
From the opening tip, the Thunder were clearly focused, stopping the Kings and going on a 9-0 run to start the game. From here, they wouldn’t let up, relentlessly pressuring the short handed Sacramento Kings into poor shots and turnovers. OKC were without Russell Westbrook who was being held out of this game in order to be available for tomorrow’s Clipper clash, but they welcomed Thabo Sefolosha back to the team after missing 18 games through injury. Sefolosha was restricted to just 15 minutes of game time.
Caron Butler had a terrific game for the Thunder off the bench. He scored 23 points on 80% shooting including 6/6 from 3pt range, and filled the offensive void left by Westbrook. It was also pleasing to see him hit the outside shot consistently after that had been identified as an area of concern in past defeats.
The Sacramento Kings only played 9 players due to Rudy Gay and Reggie Evans being unavailable which meant the majority of the load was left to DeMarcus Cousins. He was stellar in a losing performance with 24pts and 14 rebs while Travis Outlaw provided some support with 24 points of his own.
It wasn’t enough to stop the Thunder from cruising to a 107-92 victory though. The Thunder committed a season low 6 turnovers for the entire contest and shot the 3 ball at 54.5%, very positive signs as they try to turn their form around.
The next stop is the Staples Center where they will take on an in-form Los Angeles Clipper unit. These two sides are separated by just 1.5 games for the #2 seed in the Western Conference with only a handful of games remaining. The Thunder are behind in the regular season series 1-2 and will want to avenge the 8 point loss in their last encounter. Westbrook will be back and the Thunder will almost be at full strength – with Perkins, Westbrook and Sefolosha still on managed minutes.