This started out as a low-scoring game: OKC led the Kings by a modest 19-16 after the first quarter. But putting distance between themselves and Sacramento proved to be surprisingly difficult; the third quarter, in which the Kings scored 39 points, left the West Coasters up one point with 12 minutes left, and Steven Adams was out again, this time with a contusion. The Thunder managed to crank up both offense and defense in that final frame, which is a good thing; perhaps not so good, this was the front end of a back-to-back, which ends tomorrow in Atlanta, which makes for not a whole lot of rest. Still, the Kings came up with a 9-2 run ending with only 30 seconds left to bring them to within three. Those last three points would not be forthcoming, however, and OKC finished with a couple of Corey Brewer freebies to win it 106-101 and take the season series 3-1.
Russell Westbrook played a hair over 36 minutes, and if you asked him if he wanted to be out there that long, he’d probably snicker: “Why not?” He’s almost, but not completely, indefatigable; if he’s thoroughly shagged out tomorrow night, the Hawks, the only team in the East to be guaranteed no trip to the post-season, probably have more than enough energy to make things difficult for the Thunder. And while Paul George and Carmelo Anthony both had 21 points, both played more than half an hour out there. (Westbrook, perhaps needless to say, had another triple-double, 17-10-11.) Kings swingman Bogdan Bogdanović had 19 points to lead the Men In Black, and it’s still kind of fun to see Zach Randolph, 53 years old, and Vince Carter, now in his eighties, keeping up with Sacramento’s youngsters.
Tomorrow: Atlanta. But you knew that. And it’s a 6:30 start. (5:30 Central.) Remind me to find some complaint about Daylight Saving Time, especially if the Hawks make a game of it.