SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Before the team bus had pulled out of the station at Oracle Arena on Wednesday night, Russell Westbrook was busy telling any teammate who would listen how eager he was to wash out the taste of that loss to the Warriors.
“He told me after the game in Golden State that he couldn’t wait to the next game and come out and play,” said Kendrick Perkins. “He wanted to win. So I knew what he was going to come out and try to do.”
Westbrook ultimately did whatever he wanted in the Thunder’s 105-95 win at Sacramento on Friday night.
The Thunder point guard was phenomenal as he orchestrated the offense and ultimately overpowered the Kings, scoring 18 points with a game-high 14 assists that were two shy of tying his career high and one less than the Kings’ team total.
“He was great,” said Kevin Martin. “He’s a special point guard. He wasn’t looking to score too much. He was just making the right play all night.”
Two nights earlier, Westbrook scored just 10 points on 3 for 16 shooting with six turnovers in that five-point loss to the Warriors. His defense was possibly worse than his offense, as Warriors point guard Stephen Curry erupted for a team-high 31 points.
Westbrook, however, said he was focused on winning rather than bouncing back individually.
“Just coming in trying to win,” Westbrook said when asked his mind-set entering the Kings game on the heels of his worst performance of the year. “Right now it doesn’t matter what the numbers look like. All we need to do is win.”
Westbrook went on to say it was easy for him to shake off Wednesday’s game.
“Very easy,” he said. “I mean, you’ve got 82 games. For you to hang your head on one game that we had an opportunity to win, it doesn’t matter.
“You have nights like that. There’s nobody in this league that’s going to play 82 games and not have some letdowns. So I’m not really worried about that.”
The Thunder improved to 34-10 and 3-2 on this six-game road trip thanks a dominating 24 minutes in the second and third quarters. In those middle periods, the Thunder outscored the Kings 59-37, building a 25-point lead late in the third frame and before refusing to allow Sacramento to pull within single digits in the fourth period.
Kevin Durant and Martin paced all players with 24 points each. Serge Ibaka added 14 points, and Thabo Sefolosha scored 10. Durant added a game-high 11 rebounds and five assists.
The Thunder held bruising Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins in check, completing one of its chief pregame goals. Cousins entered the night averaging a team-leading 18.1 points and 10.6 rebounds. After a torrid start, he finished with 14 points, eight rebounds and seven turnovers. Nine of his points came in the first period. In the final three quarters, Cousins’ five points came on 2 for 9 shooting.