Thunder 99, Kings 97
News, notes and observations from Saturday’s win at Sacramento.
- Several Sacramento reporters were questioning whether Tyreke Evans made the right decision to go for 3 at the end of the game. Looking at it from the other side, what if that shot had gone in?
- Kevin Durant didn’t hesitate when asked if he would have taken the same shot. “Most definitely. Without a doubt,” Durant said. “Especially at home after they fought back so hard. I would have taken the 3, too. I think it was a good shot.”
- Because it bounced off the rim instead of splashing through the net, we’re talking about a resilient Thunder team rather than one that suffered its second bad loss in as many nights. The Thunder did a lot of things right in this one but the final four minutes were atrocious. The Thunder let up and nearly let this one get away.
- Durant said something interesting when I asked if he was worried if letting up is becoming a bad theme for this team, especially after what happened Tuesday against Memphis. “It’s something that we just learn from,” Durant said. “The last two games were were doing that. I think you won’t see that again from us. It’s a learning curve. Every team goes through it. I think us being a younger team, we got to see it. We got to mess up first and then we’re going to correct it I think. Hopefully next game if we get to be up by a couple of points we close it right.”
- For those asking about Durant’s ankle, he said he twisted it tonight in the third quarter. But he continued to put pressure on it and was able to play through discomfort. He said it was fine though. “If it was hurt too much I would have came out the game,” Durant said. “But it was cool for me to finish the game. Hopefully it’s good for me to (play) tomorrow.”
- “I wiped my head after I missed those two free throws and Tyreke missed.” — Durant after failing to ice the game with 5.8 seconds left.
- I wrote about this in my game story. But the defense at the start of the fourth quarter was one of the best stretches of D the Thunder has shown all season. The Kings had four turnovers and just one shot attempt in the quarter’s first four minutes.
- Thunder coach Scott Brooks went with Eric Maynor down the stretch over Russell Westbrook. It was a very surprising move. But Brooks said he liked how Maynor was playing. “I have confidence in them,” Brooks said of his bench. “That’s why at the very end of the game, I thought Eric was playing good and I put him back in.”
- James Harden had a career-high five steals tonight, helping the Thunder score 26 points off the Kings’ 19 turnovers. After the game, Brooks said Harden has a nose for the ball and a knack for digging the ball out of the ball-handler’s hand.
- Two of the worst 3-points shooting teams met up tonight. And they combined to go 3-for-25 from deep.
- The Thunder had just 12 assists, two off its season low. But unlike other games, it didn’t look like the team was playing selfish ball or not hitting shots.
- I haven’t pulled any punches in my analysis of Durant’s defense lately. Tonight, he was far from even good. But the way he bailed out his team offensively (with the exception of the two misses at the stripe) about atoned for his poor effort.
- The offense in general was basically a heavy dose of Durant and Westbrook tonight. Someone asked Brooks after the game what makes that duo work. Brooks said, “They’re talented.”
- A lot of technical fouls on the Thunder tonight. There were four in all, but three were for conduct. The other was a defensive three second violation. Westbrook and Maynor both said magic words near an official (Maynor claimed he was talking to himself), and Serge Ibaka bumped DeMarcus Cousins after a play.
- I asked Brooks before the game if Thabo Sefolosha was on a minute count as he returns from a knee injury. Brooks said no but added that he’s got a certain amount in his head each game that he wants to play Thabo. Basically Brooks doesn’t want to push him too much right now. Sefolosha played 15 minutes tonight.
- The Thunder is now 15-3 after a loss and 18-7 in games decided by six points or less. Brooks talked about his team responding after defeats. “When you lose a game, you got to feel anger toward that loss,” Brooks said. “You don’t take it with you forever, but you have to feel it going into the next game. And our guys are very competitive and they come back and play well after a loss.”
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