Sacramento Kings End 7-Game Losing Streak, Beat OKC Thunder 94-86
Sacramento Kings point guard De'Aaron Fox can feel a victory against the OKC Thunder towards the end of the fourth quarter. So does his teammates in the background at Golden 1 Center. Publicity Agents photo art by T. Ray Harvey. Nov. 7, 2017.
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Sacramento, Calif. – The Sacramento Kings’ starters missed all 12 of their shots in the first quarter, the team trailed the Oklahoma City Thunder by 17 points in the first half, and was likely on their way to eight-straight losses.
The struggling Kings overcame both of those situations and the worst-case scenario by convincingly beating the Thunder 94-86 on Tuesday at Golden 1 Center.
It was a game with a “mixed up” rhythm, as Kings (2-8) head coach Dave Joerger described it, but the team got its first home victory of the season and ended a seven-game losing streak.
“It was a good game and a good win for us,” Joerger said. “I’m excited for the guys. They’ve been practicing well and we haven’t been able to get rewarded with a win. We’re looking for small victories and this was a big victory. We beat a good team with good players, good coaching and a great front office.”
Buddy Hield came off the bench for 21 points, seven rebounds, and two steals while Zach Randolph had 18 points, eight rebounds, three assists and two steals. Justin Jackson contributed 16 points, four rebounds and two 3-pointers.
“We never really quit,” Jackson said. “I think the past games we had some lulls and that’s teams kind of take an advantage of that. Tonight, we didn’t have too many of those. So if we continue to play like that it feels good to go out there and have some fun, pass the ball around to everybody get involved.”
Beside the first quarter, it wasn’t fun for the Thunder (4-6), who lost their third consecutive game. OKC had a 17-point lead in the first quarter and completely fell apart to the Kings’ bench players and aggressiveness.
Russell Westbrook had 20 points, 12 rebounds, six assists, and three steals for the losing Thunder. Carmelo Anthony had 16 points, seven rebounds, and two assists while Paul George finished with 12 points, six rebounds, three steals, and two assists.
The Thunder’s bench only put up 21 points overall in oppose to the Kings’ reserves 47 points. OKC made 29 of 86 shots for 33.7 percent. Sacramento rebounded to make 37 of 79 shots from the field at 46.8 percent.
“I thought we played really well in the first quarter,” Thunder head coach Billy Donovan said. “The second quarter we struggled offensively, with just putting the ball in the basket. I think we had maybe 16 points in the third quarter. Tonight, we just didn’t make enough shots or played well enough on defense.”
The Kings let it be known that they have a great problem with letting teams get off to a fast start. The Thunder jumped out to a 10-0 run in the first quarter. The Kings missed their first 10 shots before Jackson checked in the game and quickly made a 3-point shot at the 6:22 mark to end the drought.
The Kings starting five of Garrett Temple, Willie Cauley-Stein, Bogdan Bogdanovic, George Hill and Randolph missed all 12 attempts from the floor as a unit. Apparently, Joerger had seen enough and went to the bench in a hurry.
“I just assume to forget that first quarter,” he said. “But we got looks, we got shots and we turned the ball over way too much. We just couldn’t get one to go down. So we went to a different group and they were ready to go. And Buddy made a lot of things happen for his teammates. He gave everyone confidence by his shots falling. That is my ‘atta boy’ for Buddy.”
Publicity Agents OpticalVision footage by T. Ray Harvey. Nov. 7, 2017.
With the help of the reserves, on a 18-5 run, the Kings surged back to take a 31-30 lead, capped off with two free throws by Cauley-Stein with 4:08 left in the second quarter.
The Kings went up by four points, but it was two lead changes and two ties with the Thunder before Sacramento went ahead by one point after Temple’s 3-pointer with 28 seconds left. Kings lead 42-41 at the half.
Hield, regulated to the bench for the last four games, came in to score 15 points and made all of his shots behind the arc in the first half. The Kings outscored OKC 32-16 in the second quarter.
The Kings also made 12 0f 17 shots after making only 4 of 25 from the field in the first quarter. The Thunder made 5 0f 19 shots in the second quarter after pulling down 20 rebounds in the first quarter. The Thunder got two points from their bench while the Kings’ bench contributed 19 points, 10 of them by Hield.
George said the second quarter for the Thunder was a total “collapse.”
“We came out relaxed in the second quarter and they took an advantage,” George said. “That’s a young team. They’re out there trying to learn and they are out there trying to prove themselves.”
In the third quarter, Randolph scored 12 points, including a hook-shot basket to put the Kings up 61-53 at the 3:28 mark. Fox came in off the bench to make a bank shot followed by a 20-foot floater to give the Kings a 67-57 lead, which ended the quarter.
“That rookie...he’s gonna be an All Star,” Randolph said Fox. “He’s alright with me.”
The Thunder managed to cut the Kings’ lead 75-74 on a trey by George with 4:51 left to play. Hield made a technical foul, courtesy of Anthony, and then made a 3-point basket to give the Kings a seven-point spread.
The Thunder came back to cut the lead 89-86 on a trey by Westbrook with 26 seconds to go. But the Kings got a free throw from Hill, Hield added two more from the charity stripe, and after Westbrook turned the ball over, Jackson scored on breakaway dunk to seal the victory.
“I think we just have to be ready to play,” Westbrook said. “(The Kings) came in and did a good job of changing the pace. But like I said, I take ownership in how we're playing and we will be better.”
The Sacramento Kings fell off a three-game road trip, which they failed to top 100-points in each contests. Include the 110-83 home loss to the Washington Wizards on Oct. 29, it has been four-straight games where the Kings have not reached triple digits.
Through nine games, the Kings are averaging 93.8 points per game while opponents average 105.8 games against Sacramento. The Kings were held to 94 points against the Thunder, but pulled out the win. Hitting the century mark is not a necessity if they stay competitive.
Last season, on top of 42 triple-doubles, Russell Westbrook averaged 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 10.4 assists per game. In nine games this season, he has four triple-doubles while averaging 20.1 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 11.4 assists.
Westbrook scoring output is way down, but Carmelo Anthony and 20-plus points per game, each, make up the difference.
Thunder head coach Billy Donovan said Westbrook is more focus on getting his teammates in a flow.
“You know, it’s interesting because last year everybody said his usage rate was too much. Now this year they are saying he’s not shooting enough,” Donovan said. “For Russell, he’s doing a great job from a leadership standpoint. He’s doing a great job in terms of trying to help make the game easier for everybody else on the team. That’s the one thing I love about him.”
On The Marquee
Sacramento Kings: Host Philadelphia on Thursday
OKC Thunder: Visit Denver on Thursday
By T. Ray Harvey | PA Public Information Officer and Photographic Artist
Twitter: Tony Ray Harvey @PublicityAgents
T. Ray (Antonio) Harvey is a Public Information Officer and Photographic Artist for Publicity Agents. Harvey is also the author of The HOMICIDAL HANDYMAN OF OAK PARK: MORRIS SOLOMON JR.