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.
Collison appeared to give Robinson a pep talk while motioning what adjustment Robinson might try to make.
Thunder center Kendrick Perkins, who rarely exchanges pleasantries after games, walked over to troubled Kings center DeMarcus Cousins. They shared a fist bump but no words were spoken.
OKC is 11-0 when five or more players score in double-digits. … The 10-game winning streak is the longest in OKC history and the longest dating back to Seattle since 11 straight in November of 1996. … The 19-4 start is the best in OKC history. … The Thunder's next game is at The Peake against the San Antonio Spurs (18-6) at 7 p.m. Monday. … Tommy Heath of the group Tommy Tutone was a halftime musical guest and sang “867-5309/Jenny.”
Kings coach Keith Smart on his team getting within 103-98 late in the game, only for the Thunder to pull away with its starters back in the game: “They had a group in there at the end of the game, but this game should have been on ice. … We got it to within the five to seven point (deficit). We made it tough, but Scottie has that luxury over there to the call the big dogs back into the game.”