On the line tonight: the #1 seed in the West and the 60th win of the season. Sacramento would have been happy to play spoiler for both of those, and after Tyreke Evans hit four out of five in ten minutes, you’d have been forgiven for thinking that they might actually pull it out. Then Evans went down with a blow to the quads, and the Kings started falling behind, dropping to 24 back. The starters went to the bench. The Kings started catching up, and the starters were called back to work, though the margin at the end was a modest nine points, 104-95.
Kevin Martin and Kendrick Perkins were still out, and Derek Fisher was scratched before game time, so the big questions were “How long will Hasheem Thabeet be out there?” and “Will we actually see Ronnie Brewer?” The answers: 12½ minutes, and Yes, with a capital Y. Brewer’s shot wasn’t going in, but he was gathering everyone else’s shots, finishing with two points and 13 rebounds. What’s more, the Thunder got twenty minutes out of Daniel Orton, a third of what he’d played in the preceding 59 games, and he and Reggie Jackson wangled ten points apiece, more than compensating for the Sixth and Seventh men. Kevin Durant, having pretty much cinched 50-40-90 for the season, turned in 29 points, a little above his average but not enough to put him back in contention for the scoring title. And while we’re talking contention, let’s talk Russell Westbrook, who was contentious enough to bag two technicals, which earned him a free trip to the locker room. He’d already picked up 21 points.
If you’re a Kings fan, here’s the fun part for you: ex-Thunderer Cole Aldrich got the only double-double of the night: 12 points, 13 boards in not quite 23 minutes. In fact, the Sacramento bench was quite a bit more productive than the starters, bagging 53 of the Kings’ 95 points, though Isaiah Thomas did come up with 16 running the point. (Still, Thomas was -4 for the night, while Aldrich was +17.) And Sacramento was slightly less inept at shooting the long ball than Oklahoma City: 7-27 versus 5-23.
Still undetermined: whether there will actually be a Sacramento team next year. (If not, will Bill Simmons call the new Seattle entity the Zombie Kings?)