Isaiah Thomas, the Sacramento Kings' 5-foot-9 reserve point guard, single-handedly forced Thunder starters Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka to re-enter a game that just moments earlier was a 24-point mismatch.
It appeared Thunder coach Scott Brooks would be able to rest four of his five starters (Kendrick Perkins being the other) for the entire fourth quarter when OKC extended its lead to 99-75 with 7:53 left at Chesapeake Energy Arena on Friday night.
Sparked by the diminutive and determined Thomas, the Kings went on a 23-4 run over the next 4 1/2 minutes to pull within 103-98. Thomas scored 23 of his team-high 26 points in the final period, shooting 9 for 11 from the field, including 4 for 6 from 3-point range.
From there, the Thunder responded with a 6-0 run to regain control and post a 113-103 victory for its 10th straight win.
As a rookie out of Washington last season, Thomas averaged 12.8 points, 4.0 assists and shot 50 percent (7 for 14) from 3-point range against OKC.
“Nobody can win basketball games by themselves,” said Thomas, who nearly did.
ROCK CHALK TALK
With 10 seconds remaining and the Thunder holding the ball to run out the clock, forward Nick Collison motioned over fellow Kansas product and rookie forward Thomas Robinson to meet him at midcourt.