By Anthony Slater – Aslater@opubco.com - @anthonyVslater
The bitter basketball war between Oklahoma City and Seattle has an added component. The Sacramento Kings have become franchise number three in this complicated NBA love triangle.
From now until hoops eternity, if the solidified sale to Seattle comes true, these three will be forever intertwined. There’s no way around it.
So tonight’s game between the Thunder and Kings has become somewhat special. It’s likely the last time Kevin Durant and his crew stroll into Sacramento’s Arco Arena (or whatever they’re calling it now, I’ll always remember it as Arco). That is, unless the sale falls through or the two meet in this year’s playoffs. Both very unlikely. The Kings, at a struggling 16-27, are spiraling downward and the Maloof Brothers seem far out the door.
So instead of looking ahead at what should develop as one of the NBA’s most intriguing rivalries (OKC and Seattle), let’s take a quick look back at what has been a one-sided matchup between two franchises with little in common except this sudden connection to the Emerald City.
Thunder v Kings
First matchup - The Kings outlasted Oklahoma City in a wild overtime affair, winning 122-118 on February 1, 2009. And how about this for a twist? The star of the game was Kevin Martin, OKC’s current six man who was torching the net for Sacramento at the time. He had a game-high 37 points on 11/24 shooting. For OKC, the trio of Kevin Durant (33), Jeff Green (28) and rookie guard Russell Westbrook (34) combined for 95 points.
OKC dominance - Of course OKC lost the first meeting. Because who didn’t the Thunder lose to that first year? But in the five-year history between the two, that could be considered a rarity. OKC would win nine of the next 10 meetings, sweeping the four-game season series in 2010-11. Overall, the Thunder is 13-3 all-time against Sacramento.
Home – Eight chances. Eight losses. The Kings have never beaten the Thunder in Oklahoma City, and it’s really never been that close. OKC has put up wins of 30, 21, 15, 13 and 10.
Road - Sacramento has kept the series respectable in Arco (3-5 overall), even winning the last one played there despite 60 combined from Westbrook and Durant.
Last game - Tonight’s game is the final one in Sacramento, but not the last between the two. That comes April 15 in Oklahoma City (the second to last game of the regular season). And who knows, maybe if the Thunder are resting some starters, the Kings can pick up their first ever win in the Thunder Dome.
Kevin Durant career vs Sacramento – 19 games, 28.6 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists
Most points: 39 on March, 2, 2010
Most rebounds: 11 on November 28, 2009
Most assists: 7 on April 20, 2012
Russell Westbrook career vs Sacramento – 16 games, 20.2 points, 7.4 assists, 5.3 rebounds
Most points: 34 on February 1, 2009
Most rebounds: 8 on two separate occasions
Most assists: 13 on three separate occasions