Thunder preview: Kings no gimme
Sacramento was the team most analysts chose to finish with the league’s record. When Kevin Martin, the Kings’ only player even worthy of All-Star consideration, suffered a wrist injury last week it was a given they would struggle, right?
Not so fast.
The Kings have won three of their last four. They’re 2-0 and defeated the Jazz in Salt Lake City since Martin suffered the injury which required surgery and will keep him sidelined two months.
So how are the Kings doing it?
Rookie Tyreke Evans scored a career-high 32 against the Jazz, getting to the line 19 times, sinking 16. Evans followed with a team-high 23 points and eight rebounds in a win over Golden State. The combined 55 points is the most by a Kings’ rookie in back-to-back games since Walt Williams also scored 55 back in 1993.
Evans and sharp-shooting guard Beno Udrih are averagiong a combined 35.7 points. They’ve been an even more effective guard combo since Martin’s injury.
Throw in second-year forward Jason Thompson, a threat for a double-double every game, and the Kings are no gimme. Thompson is averaging 12.3 poings and 9.4 rebounds.
Oklahoma City is a rare road favorite. But the Thunder is only a 2-point favorite. Coming off an impressive win over Orlando Sunday night, OKC should win this game. But it might be more difficult than you think.
Perimeter defense — not giving Udrih open looks and preventing Evans from penetrating — will be key if the Thunder is to improve to 4-3 overall, 2-1 on the road. If not, OKC could be on the south side of .500 on both counts, 3-4 overall, 1-2 on the road.
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