Sunday, January 19
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Sacramento coach Michael Malone said Kevin Durant wouldn't score 54 points against his Kings like he did against Golden State two nights earlier.
Turns out, the alternative wasn't any fun for Malone, either. Durant scored 30 points and embraced a role as a facilitator by finishing with nine assists to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder past Sacramento 108-93 on Sunday night.
"I told you Durant wasn't going to get 54 tonight, right?" Malone said with a smile after the game.
Durant, coming off that career-high scoring effort on Friday, still shot 10 for 15 from the field on Sunday and scored at least 30 points for the seventh straight game. Serge Ibaka added 20 points and benefited of several of Durant's passes.
"My teammates were setting screens for me," Durant said. "We were seeing something in pick-and-roll. Serge was doing a great job of slipping out of it and knocking down shots. I was trying to be aggressive and put pressure on the rim and the defense and if they draw in, I kick it out and if not, I try to lay the ball in, take a good shot."
Reggie Jackson added 16 points for the Thunder, who won their third straight. Oklahoma City scored 34 points off Sacramento's 21 turnovers and had 20 second-chance points.
Oklahoma City improved to 8-5 without All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook since he had surgery on his right knee last month.
"They execute well and they do a great job of playing together, so all credit to them," Cousins said. "But at the same time, I think we did a terrible job defensively of guarding those guys tonight. We made it easy for them to run their sets. With that being said, that's why they had the type of game they did."
Isaiah Thomas scored a career-high 38 points for the Kings, but he slowed down in the second half as the Thunder pulled away.
"He got hot," Durant said. "He hit a lot of 3s. He got to the foul line a lot. He was coming down, pulling up. I think our pick-and-roll defense was a lot better in the second half, making him drive a little more, forcing him to our bigs."
DeMarcus Cousins had 16 points and 14 rebounds for Sacramento. Rudy Gay scored just six points for the Kings and was ejected after picking up two technical fouls in the fourth quarter.
The score was tied at 43 late in the second quarter before the Thunder went on a 12-4 run, highlighted by Durant's lob to Ibaka for a two-handed jam.
The Thunder held the Kings to 6-for-17 shooting in the second quarter to take a 57-52 lead at the break. Thomas scored 27 points in the first half on 7-for-11 shooting.
Cousins made a layup early in the third quarter to tie the score at 60, but the Thunder responded with an 8-0 run, including four points by Jackson, to put Oklahoma City ahead and force the Kings to call a timeout.
Durant found Jackson a little later for a 3-pointer to extend the lead to 75-64 and force the Kings to call another timeout.
Durant hit a 3 from straight away to bump Oklahoma City's lead to 87-70, and the Thunder led 89-74 at the end of the quarter.
Gay was called for two technicals for arguing with an official and was ejected with 10:01 remaining. The Thunder led 95-74 after the free throws.
"Rudy, obviously, I think he was frustrated with the way he was playing and he wound up getting thrown out of the game, which is unfortunate," Malone said. "But tomorrow is another day. We'll bounce back, we'll work on some things, watch some film and we still have two games on this trip that we feel like we have a great chance to win."
NOTES: Oklahoma City won the first meeting between the teams, 97-95 in Sacramento. ... Thomas scored 21 points in the fourth quarter of the earlier meeting, then scored 14 in the first quarter on Sunday. ... The Kings shot 62 percent in the first quarter to lead 30-28 at the end of the period. ... Sacramento F Jason Thompson was issued a technical foul in the third quarter. ... Thunder F/C Nick Collison scored a season-high 10 points.
Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP .