OKLAHOMA CITY — With less than a month left in the NBA season, most teams know where they will be when the season ends. While Oklahoma City will be in the hunt for a championship, Sacramento will be at home watching.
So when the two teams met, the game went as expected. The Thunder rolled to a 94-81 victory over the Kings on Friday night at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
“We just have to focus on us,” Thunder guard Russell Westbrook said. “Watch the film, see what we did as a unit. Make sure we are doing the right thing, regardless of who we are playing.”
Forward Kevin Durant scored 29 points on 9-of-11 shooting from the field to lead Oklahoma City. He extended his streak to 37 straight games with at least 25 points. He is now three games from tying Michael Jordan’s record of 40.
In the past, Oklahoma City allowed teams to get back into games after it opened big leads. But against the Kings (25-47), the Thunder (53-19) brought out the big bats and never stopped swinging.
Leading 54-38 to start the second half, Oklahoma City went 12-for-16 from the field in the third quarter. That included Westbrook snagging an alley-oop pass from Durant and throwing down a ferocious dunk. But even more impressive was the Thunder holding the Kings to five field goals in 12 minutes.
The Kings never recovered. Oklahoma City rested its starters the entire fourth quarter.
“Very disappointing how we played in the first and third quarters tonight,” Kings coach Michael Malone said. “We were undermanned. We don’t have a lot of bodies. The guys that are able to play just need to play with a more sense of urgency, greater effort.”
Westbrook scored 18 points to go with six assists and five rebounds. Guard Jeremy Lamb came off the bench to score 11 points. Forward Serge Ibaka racked up eight points, eight rebounds and four blocked shots.
Guard Ben McLemore paced the Kings with 18 points and forward Travis Outlaw came off the bench to score 17. Guard Ray McCallum chipped in with 13 points and five assists in his first start.
“I’ve been waiting for the opportunity all year,” McCallum said. “I’m getting a good opportunity to get out here and get some good experience to go out their and play. Coach is letting me play my game, working on trying to run the team. It’s going to make me a better player.”
The Thunder looked like they were set to blow the game out in the opening five minutes when they sprinted out to a 17-point lead in the first quarter. Much of it was due to Westbrook attacking the basket while Durant found his range from out the 3-point line.
However, the Kings showed some fight by trying to grinding their way back into the game. Forward Reggie Evans, Jason Thompson and Quincy Acy attacked the backboards relentlessly.
Sacramento cut the Oklahoma City advantage to 46-34 with 2:35 left in the first half. But the Kings could not keep the momentum going and trailed by 16 heading into halftime.
“This is a great team and we knew they were a great team coming in,” McLemore said. “We knew what we had to do. At the same time, we got down early, but we’re all trying to go out there and compete as one team.”
NOTES: Oklahoma City signed forward Reggie Williams to a 10-day contract. Earlier this season, Williams appeared in one game for the Thunder and scored five points in five minutes after being signed to a 10-day contract on March 6. … G Isaiah Thomas did not play for the Kings because of a strained right quad. Rookie G Ray McCallum Jr. started in his place. It was a homecoming of sorts of McCallum, whose father, Ray Sr., was an assistant coach at Oklahoma under Kelvin Sampson from 2004 to 2006. “Regardless of the outcome, this will be a great opportunity for McCallum,” Kings coach Michael Malone said. “These last 11 games for us … are great opportunities to learn, to play, to grow.” … The Sacramento Kings signed F Willie Reed for the remainder of the season. Reed will report immediately to the Reno Bighorns, the team’s D-League affiliate. … G Derek Fisher is leading by example for Oklahoma City. “When I look at Fish, I see what work he puts in every day,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “He’s one of the most professional guys I’ve ever been around. This is not his hobby. This is his life.”
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