Over the past couple of weeks, Kevin Durant has made headlines with his extended scoring binge.
But typically, the Thunder has sustained more success when Durant spreads the wealth. Shooting a bit less, facilitating a bit more, provided his teammates are rewarding the trust.
And that was the formula Sunday night, when the Thunder cruised by Sacramento for an easy 108-93 win at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Durant hit his scoring average, needing only 15 shots (and 10 makes) to score 30 points for a seventh straight game.
But his nine assists — the most he's recorded in the last 25 games — was a more encouraging and revealing sign of the Thunder's impressive night.
“I just love the way he thinks,” Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said of Durant. “He thinks about the team … He took 15 great shots and made 10 of them. Everybody else got involved and had an opportunity to score.”
The biggest benefactor was Serge Ibaka, who scored 20 points on 9-of-13 shooting. But he wasn't the only one.
For the first time this season, OKC had six players in double-figures: Durant, Ibaka, Reggie Jackson (16), Thabo Sefolosha (10), Jeremy Lamb (10) and Nick Collison (10).
“When we move the ball like that,” Durant said of the Thunder's 23 assists, “everybody touching it, that helps our defense as well.”
And so it did on Sunday night, allowing OKC to stifle every King not named Isaiah Thomas (a career-high 38 points), holding Sacramento under 100 points for only the third time in its last 16 games.
“They, for years, do a great job of turning you over,” Kings coach Mike Malone said, pointing to his team's 20 giveaways. “But more importantly, (they) convert them.”
Less than a week ago, the Thunder was stuck in a rut and faced with a looming challenge.
OKC had lost three of four and entered halftime in Houston trailing by double-digits. It was the first of a five-game, seven-day stretch that included four tests against Western Conference contenders. The outlook didn't look good.
But that was Thursday night. And oh how quickly things have changed since.
The Thunder came back to beat the Rockets, bested Golden State in a shootout and capped this impressive three-game winning streak with Sunday's win over Sacramento.
OKC is playing its best basketball since Russell Westbrook's latest setback.
And it's coming at an ideal time, with an intriguing back-to-back against the Blazers and Spurs set to start 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Suddenly, what figured to be the back end of an extended rough patch now becomes an appealing chance to test the Westbrook-less waters against the two Western Conference rivals ahead of OKC in the standings.