The new home for the Sacramento Kings is the Golden 1 Center, named for a credit union, located in the Downtown Commons. At some point in the second quarter tonight I got the feeling that the Thunder had somehow drifted back to the old Sleep Train Arena; both offense and defense seemed a bit sleepy at times. Down three at the half, Oklahoma City was outscored 36-27 in the third, and the Kings just kept on coming; halfway through the fourth Anthony Morrow, who hadn’t made a three-point shot all season, somehow made a three-point shot — and an and-one. This brought the Thunder back to within ten, but by then the game was essentially over, and when the horn sounded the Kings were 116-101 winners.
All the standard statistical categories favored Sacramento, though this one is the most dramatic: the Kings shot 47 percent (44-94), the Thunder 42 percent (32-76). The Purple Gang managed to take 18 more shots, a situation not at all alleviated by the Thunder’s 30-38 free-throw performance. (The Kings hit 16 of 17 from the line.) And the fiction that OKC is a good three-point team persists: seven of 25, 28 percent. (The Kings made 12 of 28.)
Faced with this debacle, the fan wants to know: “Well, how did Russell Westbrook do?” Just short of a triple-double: 31-11-9. But those 31 points include 16 free throws; he was 7-18 from the floor. And besides, DeMarcus Cousins’ own double-double was a bit more impressive: 36 points, 13 boards. (Okay, only two assists. Cousins is a big, okay?) Billy Donovan threw out some new lineups, but none of them seemed effective at the time.
So it’s back to .500, and one more out-West game this week: Friday night at Denver. After that, the Pistons come to OKC, having already thrashed the Thunder in Auburn Hills. Sixteen games in, it’s hard to see these guys as better than an 8 seed, if that.