Sacramento played this one very close for the first half and enough of the second to spur Billy Donovan to a serious timeout lecture. I have no idea what he said, but the Thunder’s feeble three-point lead at halftime grew to 17 and was still 12 going into the fourth quarter. The Kings, however, were not about to go away, and halfway through that quarter they reduced that deficit to three, prompting Donovan to bring back all the starters. It didn’t help; the Kings went up 93-86 inside the three-minute mark. “Turnovers,” said radio guy Matt Pinto, “are the issue.” And then free throws became the issue: Kevin Durant missed one of two, Russell Westbrook missed one of two, then DeMarcus Cousins missed two of two, and a Durant pullup jumper finally put the Thunder back up one with 23 seconds left. Steven Adams swatted away a Kings shot; Darren Collison was getting ready to foul Adams when Adams called a time out. With 4.4 seconds left, Durant finally made two foul shots in a row, making it Thunder 98, Kings 95; Marco Belinelli put up a desperation trey that never got close to the rim, and that was the end of that.
And really, if Cousins had had a better night, the Kings probably would have walked away with this one: DMC was 5-20 and 3-9 from the line, though he did collect 10 rebounds. Factor out Cousins, and Sacramento hits 44 percent; with him, and they failed to clear 40. Not that OKC was much better, at a shade under 41 percent. The Thunder did pick up a whopping 62 rebounds to the Kings’ 41. Then again, Sacramento coughed up the ball a mere 14 times, two-thirds of the Thunder’s hackwork. And weirdly, both Durant and Westbrook went 7-13 from the floor; KD had 20 points, while Westbrook eased, to the extent that Westbrook can ease, to a 19-11-10 triple-double. Rudy Gay led the Kings with 20. This was not a night for heroball.
Next outing: in Memphis. The Grizzlies will be, yes, as Grizzly as ever.