Sacramento, which has not been enormously successful against Oklahoma City in recent years, tonight managed to leverage these two possibly unrelated circumstances: a hitherto-unnoticed ability to draw fouls in mass quantities, and some downright clumsy play by the opponents. Multiply by the turnover differential, season with Michael Cage intonations of “Tough call,” and the Kings take a surprisingly easy win, 104-83.
As Royce Young put it ¾ of the way through: “Never seen the Thunder quite this discombobulated.” At the 3:45 mark, Scott Brooks opted to empty the bench; the Kings followed suit shortly thereafter, and life went on at subsonic speeds. The Thunder, who shot 31 percent against the Warriors night before last, managed to bring that up to almost, but not quite, 33 percent. Sacramento defense was okay, but not brilliant; OKC simply went through long periods of inability to buy a bucket. Kevin Durant was 8-20 (24 points), and that was one of the better showings: Anthony Morrow was 3-12 (8 points), and newly arrived sharpshooter Dion Waiters was 1-9 (4 points). To be fair to Waiters, who is widely considered to have next to nothing in defensive skills, he did come up with a block and a steal. What I want to know, though, was who was that wearing Russell Westbrook’s jersey? Westbrook himself would never tolerate 3-19 from the floor.
By general agreement, Sacramento has three starting scoring threats, and all lived up to their reputations tonight: both Rudy Gay and Darren Collison were 9-19 from the floor; Gay, who hit all three of his treys, finished with 28, and Collison, 5-10 from outside, with 24. In the middle was DeMarcus Cousins, who did not shoot well 6-23 but who still scored 23 while pulling down 15 rebounds and sinking 11 of 13 foul shots. And treys mattered: while the Kings shot only 39 percent, they knocked down 10 of 19 three-pointers. (The Thunder, should you ask, went 9-30.)
About the only good thing about this horrific road trip is that it’s only two games long, and therefore over. The Jazz will waltz into OKC Friday night, followed by a truly scary back-to-back: at Houston on the following Thursday, and back home to face the Warriors again. By then, perhaps, someone will have taught this team some offense, and it won’t be Josh Heupel. Meanwhile, I cede the last word to Royce Young: “The Thunder are 0-2 with losses of 26 and 21 since trading Lance Thomas. I think you can read between the lines here.”