Russell Westbrook's Alpha Offense Nearly Nets Triple-Double, But Kings Beat OKC 116-101
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Sacramento, Calif. — It’s still a long ways to go, but the Sacramento Kings are, respectfully, not waiting around until head coach Dave Joerger’s system kick in by the middle of next season.
After beating the Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder 116-101 at Golden 1 Center on Nov. 23, it is pretty clear that the future is now for the Kings, who won their second-consecutive game at home to make their record 6-9.
DeMarcus Cousins had 36 points, 13 rebounds, two assists and Darren Collison added 21 points and six assists in 31 minutes and 22 seconds. Rudy Gay put in another fine performance with 17 points, nine rebounds, and four assists for Sacramento.
Out of eight players that played for Sacramento, seven of them had eight or more points in the victory over the Thunder (8-8). In 15 games — despite two four-game losing streaks — the Kings are slowly heading in a “positive path,” Cousins said following the game.
“I’m not really looking for excuses and I don’t want to be like ‘it’s a new team or a new system’ or whatever,” Cousins said. “It’s a lot of NBA teams with new systems and new players and they are making it work. So why can’t we? To say it was going to click right away would be a lie. But to say it’s clicking right now? We don’t know. It has clicked the past two games. So hopefully we can stay on this path, keep growing, and keep getting better.”
Sacramento Kings players, Darren Collison, right, Garrett Temple, second left, and DeMarcus Cousins, far left, make sure Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook has no path to the basket. The Kings beat OKC 116-101 on Nov. 23, 2016. Publicity Agents photo art by T. Ray Harvey.
The Kings made 12-of-28 3-point shots against the Thunder, who limped into to Sacramento after losing 111-109 the night before to the Los Angeles Lakers. OKC coach Billy Donovan said he is concerned about the Thunder giving up treys in bunches. Nick Young, on a controversial play, helped the Lakers beat OKC with a 3-point shot that ended the game.
“It was not a great shooting night for us,” Donovan said. “What concerns me is giving up the 3-point line. We gotta understand how, when, where and why we are giving up those threes.”
Westbrook missed out on his sixth triple-double of the season. He finished with 31 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists for OKC. Victor Oladipo had 18 points, six rebounds, and two blocked shots.
The Thunder has lost seven of their last nine games after starting the season with a 6-1 record. Westbrook was short on words about OKC’s dilemma. He was straight to the point when he was questioned about the team’s issues.
“We gotta be ready to play,” Westbrook said. “That’s plain and simple. Figure it out.”
Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins goes for a basket against defender Steve Adams of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Publicity Agents photo art by T. Ray Harvey.
Cousins set the tone in the first quarter for the Kings by knocking down 16 points on 5-for-11 shooting from the field. The score was tied 27-27 at the end of the first quarter, but the Kings built up a 13-point lead on a bank-shot off the glass by Cousins with 4:31 left in the first half.
OKC battled back to trail 51-48 at the break. The Kings kept the Thunder at bay in the third quarter by trending up to a 14-point lead in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, Ty Lawson got a steal and converted it into two points on a driving lay up to give the Kings a 96-81 margin with 7:44 left to play in the game.
The Thunder never got closer than 11 points the rest of the way. Westbrook was flirting with a triple-double, but Donovan elected to pull him out the game in the last 1:23 with one missing assist that would have gave Westbrook the complete stat line.
“He might as well got a triple-double. The whole team has to try to stop him out there. It’s like building a wall so he don’t come down there. He’s a triple threat,” Kings guard Ty Lawson said of Westbrook. Lawson who had eight points, four rebounds and four assists in the Kings’ victory.
“Good professional win,” Kings coach Dave Joerger said. “I thought we came out with the right focus. You are seeing some positive things. If sometimes it doesn’t appear so we are getting better at the things we are working on. We had five guys with four assists or more. I think that’s a nice testament.”
Alongside Collison, he and Lawson have been making the small-ball strategy work. The Kings are nimble and much more faster. The team has got off to quicker starts in the last two games and avoids digging a hole offensively.
The 116 points are the most the Kings have scored in regulation this season. Sacramento also scored 65 points in the second half against the Thunder, making 25-of-36 baskets from the field. They also had 26 assists as a team. The Kings are now 4-4 at G1C and face the Houston Rockets at home on Nov. 25.
By T. Ray Harvey | PA Public Information Officer and
Still fuming from the way the game ended in Sacramento on Nov.21, the Toronto Raptors have officially filed a protest with the NBA office to contest their controversial 102-99 loss. Before the Kings played the Oklahoma City Thunder, Kings coach Dave Joerger was definitely alright with Toronto’s gripe, a ruling the NBA says was the right call when clock malfunctioned before Terrence Ross made a 3-point basket at the buzzer that would have sent the game into overtime.
Joerger: “I’ve been through it before. There are advantages and disadvantages of the replay system. But at the end of the day what it’s there for is to get it right. I think they timed it and said it was 2.4 seconds before it left his hands. But let’s not use the argument ‘he (Ross) was looking at the clock’ because he didn’t see anything before he got a shooting window and got it off. You can argue one side or the other but whatever side you’re on, whether it benefits you or it doesn’t benefits you, the biggest thing is that our league can get it right.”
T. Ray (Antonio) Harvey is a Public Information Officer and Photo Artist for Publicity Agents. Harvey is also the author of The HOMICIDAL HANDYMAN OF OAK PARK: MORRIS SOLOMON JR.