You should not make Russell Westbrook bleed.
A couple of minutes into the second half, Westbrook, who hadn’t had a particularly good night up to that point, retreated to the locker room, bleeding from one eye after a swipe by the Kings’ Carl Landry. He was gone maybe nine game minutes, and came back with a bumpy countenance and a chip on his shoulder. He finished with 21 points and eight boards as the Thunder finished off Sacramento, 108-102.
And this despite a considerable offensive display by the Kings, who shot 50.6 percent from the floor, knocking down five of nine treys. But OKC owned the boards, 45-33, including 16 off the offensive glass, and when super rookie Tyreke Evans drew two fouls in the last two minutes and connected on only one of four free throws, it was pretty much all over.
Not that Evans was a slouch or anything: he had 24 points. Landry had 20 more, and the Sacramento bench rose for 36. It might have helped their cause if some actual fans had shown up: attendance was reported at a hair over 12,000. I blame Oscar.
Your Thunder Big Three were fairly large, Kevin Durant managing 27 and Jeff Green adding 12. Thabo Sefolosha, who hadn’t been hitting any shots of late, came up with 10 points; Nenad Krstić had only five points but 10 rebounds. Both James Harden and Serge Ibaka came up with double digits off the bench. OKC shot 47.7 percent, but just four of 14 from downtown.
This puts the Thunder at 38-24 with 20 games left, none against the Kings, against whom they finish the season 3-1. A home stand begins Wednesday against the Hornets; the Nets will arrive Friday, and the Jazz on Sunday.
Hollinger’s current Playoff Odds land OKC at sixth with a 50-32 record. Dallas and Utah, says Hollinger, are set to tie for second, but the Mavs get the tiebreaker, so the Thunder end up playing the Jazz. (The Nuggets fall to fourth and take on fifth-place Phoenix.) I can believe we’ll go 12-8 the rest of the way but we have 12 games left against playoff-bound teams, and only eight against the members of the Lottery League. By no means is any of this going to be easy.