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Kings 116 – Thunder 101: Hurricane Boogie Outstorms the Thunder

DeMarcus Cousins shoots over Enes Kanter in the Kings 116-101 victory against the Thunder.
Kimani Okearah (@theKimansta)

The Kings outhustled, outshot, and outworked the visiting KD-less OKC Thunder in a beginning-to-end efficient 116- 101 win which seemed prime for a KANGZ moment that never emerged. DeMarcus Cousins destroyed the Thunder bigs across the court and finished with 36 points and 12 rebounds. Rudy Gay added 19 points and 9 boards, and Darren Collison had a quietly efficient 21 points and 4 assists.

Russell Westbrook mashed down his turbo button at all times and continued his MVP caliber season with 31 points, 9 assists and 11 rebounds; the entirety of the Thunder offensive gameplan is to let Westbrook attack constantly, draw fouls (16 free throws made off of 19 trips), and pass out of double/triple teams the rest of the time. Victor Oladipo had 18 points, but the guard duo didn’t get much additional help.

The Kings jumped out to an early lead thanks to a hot start from Cousins, who scored 10 of the Kings first 15 points with a pair of threes and a dunk. Boogie notched 16 of the Kings 27 first quarter points; when Joerger finally sat him to start the 2nd, the Kings second unit, led by solid performances by Ben McLemore and Kosta Koufos, torched the OKC bench and pulled the lead up to 48-35. Westbrook was 4 -11 in the first half, but was relentless at the basket and forced himself to the line (where he was 11-12) on his way to 20 first half points. Sacramento’s offense petered out when the non-Cousins starters returned and the open looks quit falling, but the Kings still took a 51-48 lead into halftime.

In the second half, the Kings ball movement mostly regained form. The two stars continued their dominance—Boogie hit from inside and out regardless of the defender, and Westbrook continued to pound the ball—but Sacramento’s supporting staff offered more help and kept a comfortable lead for most of the period. A buzzer-beating stepback 19-footer from Cousins gave the Kings an 87-75 lead entering the fourth quarter that the never relinquished.

The Kings end this five game home stand Friday against the Rockets before heading out on a six game road trip starting in Brooklyn on Sunday.

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Game Notes:

  • Ben McLemore had a spectacular second quarter, scoring nine points on a range of jumpers and lay-ups. Playing next to Ty Lawson and Garret Temple, McLemore played mostly off the ball and set himself up in the right spots time after time. He quieted down in the second, aside from giving up a four point play, but still played tough defense.I like that Joerger is playing Ben next to plenty of ball handlers, and Ben did a great job of taking what the offense gave him.
  • Kosta Koufos also had a nice first half, as he matched up decently against the Thunder big rotation of Enes Kanter, Joffrey Lauvergne, and Adams. He had 9 points and 10 rebounds as the Kings lone big for a decent stretch in small-ball lineups.
  • Garret Temple was still the Kings best two guard. He played aggressive defense on Oladipo and Westbrook, helped control and run the offense, and hit his open looks. As long as he’s not asked to be the lone ball-handler, there’s not a lineup that Temple doesn’t fit well in.
  • It’s both a blessing and a shame that the Kings are deep enough to not find minutes for Omri Casspi and Willie Cauley-Stein. If the Kings can’t get Omri into the lineup (or trade Rudy Gay), I’d hope they’d find value for him and let him play for a decent contract next summer. As for Cauley-Stein, I discussed the need patience with the sophomore last week.