SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Fresh off a loss that some would consider its worst of the year, the Thunder heads into Arco Arena looking to avoid a repeat result against the lowly Sacramento Kings.
The Kings are a Western-Conference worst 12-37 entering Saturday night's 9 p.m. game and have lost four straight and 12 of their past 16.
But the Thunder showed Tuesday against Memphis that no win is a gimme.
Against a Grizzlies team playing without Rudy Gay and O.J. Mayo, two of their top four scorers, the Thunder lost a 105-101 overtime decision inside Oklahoma City Arena. Memphis made its way to town on the second night of a back-to-back. The Thunder was working with two days rest.
“We gave ourselves a chance to win,” said Thunder reserve guard Eric Maynor. “We just made bonehead mistakes.”
The Thunder committed a season-high 23 turnovers, 12 of them in the second half. The Grizzlies turned those miscues into 31 points, many of them being easy buckets as Memphis scored 27 points in transition.
“Nobody wants to turn the ball over but it happens,” said Maynor, one of six Thunder players to finish with at least two turnovers Tuesday.
Thunder coach Scott Brooks responded in the ensuing days of practice by drilling his players on the game's fundamentals. To correct the uncharacteristically sloppy offense, Brooks spent time the past few days working on better spacing, better passing and better screens.
On Tuesday, the Thunder shot just 41 percent against a Grizzlies team that yields 45 percent. That's one reason Brooks is stressing the importance of not looking past Saturday night's game against the Kings, even though their defense allows 47.1 percent.
Sacramento's record can be deceiving. Of the Kings' past nine losses, eight have come by seven points or less.
“They're playing competitive basketball,” Brooks said. “They're right there every game … They've played some tough teams very well at home.”
Saturday's game concludes a six-game home stand for Sacramento. The Kings are 1-4 on the home stand, which suggests they'll be eager to get a win. The Kings lost to Dallas by two on Wednesday, fell by three to Utah on Monday and lost to Boston by five last Tuesday. Their only blowout losses in the new year came in an 18-point loss at Denver on Jan. 1, a 24-point loss at Boston on Jan. 12 and a 13-point defeat last Friday against San Antonio.
The Thunder defeated the Kings rather soundly in their first meeting, a 102-87 outcome on Dec. 17. But Brooks said that game came so long ago that there is very little from that night's success that can be beneficial.
“We're going to have to go there and do a good job with our defense,” Brooks said. “They've got a couple of bigs that do some good work down low, and they've got two guards (Tyreke Evans and Beno Udrih) that are crafty and create a lot of havoc. We have to make sure we are on defensively from the start because this team does have a lot of good pieces.”
THUNDER AT KINGS
When: 9 p.m.
Where: Arco Arena.
TV: FS Oklahoma (Cox 37, HD Ch. 722)
Radio: WWLS 98.1-FM, 640-AM.
THREE THINGS TO KNOW
* The Thunder won the first meeting, 102-87, on Dec. 17.
* The Kings have lost four in a row and 12 of their past 16 games. They have the worst record in the Western Conference. But eight of their past nine losses have come by seven points or less.
* Sacramento is 4-27 when allowing 100 points or more.