Starters: Bogdan “The MVP” Bogdanovic, Garrett “The Giraffe Tamer” Temple, Justin “Because We Have No Other SF’s” Jackson, Zach “The Back Side” Randolph, Willie “Or Won’t He” Cauley-Stein
The Kings started this game without De’Aaron Fox after an innocent fart on a pillow ended up giving him pink eye, and the Thunder made the Kings regret the rookie prank gone wrong, starting the game on a 12-3 run, hitting five of their first six shots. Paul George was hot early, hitting back-to-back threes, or precisely double what he hit during his stint in the Three Point Contest. Halfway through the quarter at OKC’s lead was up to 23-8 and I already miss the All-Star Break. To pick up the scoring pace the Kings moved Temple to point guard and tossed in Buddy Hield and **squints** Vince Carter. With four 3:55 left Dave Joerger was forced to call a second timeout, with the Thunder having hit 12/15 shots to the Kings 5/15, and the lead ballooning to 19 points. Here’s how this night went: out of that timeout, Garrett Temple immediately turned the ball over, and fouled Paul George on a made layup on the other end. After one quarter of “play”, the Kings had allowed 44 points and were down 23. The second this deficit hits 30 points I’m breaking out into a short story that will be determined by Twitter.
First Quarter Observations:
-Buddy Hield had himself a nice little end to the quarter with a dunk in traffic and a three pointer on back to back possessions.
-Through one, Paul George had 13 points and 7 assists.
The Kings started the second quarter by playing professional basketball, scoring eight straight points including back to back threes. Terrance Ferguson, the Thunder’s springy rookie who has filled in after the Roberson injury ended that run with a three himself, and through three minutes in the second quarter the Kings had wiggled themselves back to within 14 points against the Thunder bench. In a brilliant move, Dave Joerger showed the guy’s my Master’s Program submissions during a Thunder timeout and suddenly with six minutes left in the quarter the Kings had cut the lead to just 8. You’re welcome (jerks). From this point forward the game went back and forth, with Frank Mason and Buddy Hield being a big part of the run. Down 23 at the point I sent a tweet out asking for ideas for the worst Kings related short story, the Kings found themselves down just 4 points only 9 minutes and change later, after a Garrett Temple three pointer with 2:43 left in the first half. If you’ll remember the last time the Kings played the Thunder, the Kings had a similar second quarter explosion, out scoring the Thunder 32-16 in the second. This time around the Kings outscored the Thunder 39-23 in the second and at halftime the Kings had pulled themselves out of cess tank to a respectable 67-60.
Second Quarter/First Half Observations:
-Zach Randolph went nuts from three in the second quarter, hitting 3-5 and helping aid the Kings in their mad dash to respectability. He finished the first half with 14 points, 8 rebounds.
-Willie Cauley Stein recorded his first rebound with 3:14 left in the second quarter.
-Skal was a +10 during his 13 minute stint on the floor, and his two blocks and eight points really helped give the Kings a little extra punch.
-Bogi struggled mightily in the first half, scoring only 2 points and while starting at point guard, he had no assists and two turnovers. The guy was being guarded much of the time by Paul George, but woof.
-After two, Paul George has 15 and 7 in 16 minutes of play.
Willie Cauley-Stein started the Kings off on the right foot for the second half, with a take to the hoop and a dunk (plus a foul... which he missed). After trading misses, the Kings found Z-Bo in the corner for his fourth three pointer of the game to cut it to just two points, but were answered on the other end by a Carmelo triple, his sixth in nine attempts. OH, yeah. Forgot to mention. Olympic Melo was in the building tonight and seemingly there for a three whenever the Thunder needed it. The Kings cut the lead to as little as two points before the Thunder found themselves on a run and pushing it right back up to nine points. With 3:28 left, Vince Carter put in a 180-layup with the foul cutting the lead to bring the lead back down to six points and on a subsequent post up got the lead down to 4. Next possession was a Z-Bo post to cut it to two and the very next possession was a Vince Carter three pointer to put the Kings up one for the very first lead of the game. A Thunder turnover on the other end lead to a Temple dunk and suddenly they’re scoring quicker than I can type. Guys: I get it. YOU NEVER WANT TO READ MY FICTION. Another Thunder miss, another Z-Bo make had the Kings taking the lead into the fourth quarter 90-85.
Third Quarter Observations:
-Willie bit on a pump fake with around four minutes left, and landed his ... boys on the hard charging shoulder of Steven Adams. It looked rather painful.
-Russell Westbrook found himself with his 18th triple-double of the season midway through the third as well approximately 14 bricked three pointers.
A Skal Labissiere running-hook upped the the Kings lead to 7 points in the starting moments of the fourth. With 10:27 left in the fourth the Kings were forced to call a timeout after Vince Carter couldn’t make it down the court. Apparently it was a shoe blowout, but I held my breath the entire commercial session. Imagine being the team that killed Vince Carter. Not a minute later and Raymond “Cupcake” Felton made a layup to tie the game, but was answered back by Frank ‘Stud Muffin” Mason on the other end with a walk to the basket all his own. The game at this point got chippy. Z-Bo with a big foul on Steven Adams. Rustie Westie fighting for post position in the post. Frank Mason getting bumped hard on a layup by Arthur Curry. All the while, the Kings kept the slimmest of margins. Carmelo Anthony’s 6th three pointer cut the lead to one but with 3:40 left, the Kings still held a three point lead. Russell Westbrook decided to juggernaut himself into a foul just 20 seconds later to cut the lead to one. With 2:15 a Steven Adams layup put the Thunder back up by 1 and another Westbrook take to the rim drew a foul, where he made only one of two with 50 seconds left. Buddy Hield got a good look at the rim and had it blocked.
Then some SHIT happened.
Up two, Paul George airballs a three with sub 15 seconds left in the game.
Vince Carter then jacks a 30 foot three pointer with EIGHT SECONDS left. It barely grazes the rim and the ball ends up in the hands of Garrett Temple.
Temple clanks a 10 foot baseline fader with a few seconds left.
That woof ends up in the hands of Justin “Time” Jackson who tosses up a shot in midair and HITS to tie the game with just a second left. FREE BASKETBALL BABY!
Oh... wait. With one second left, Russell Westbrook catches and releases a three pointer at the buzzer. Nothing but net.
The Tank remains undefeated.
Fourth Quarter/Second Half Observations:
-Frank Mason’s defense on Westbrook in the fourth forced him into a couple of bad passes and a turnover. The kid is so scrappy.
-Zach Randolph heard Mark Cuban got fined $600k for talking about tanking and didn’t want his name anywhere near that action tonight; 29 points, 12 rebounds for the big guy.
- Two guys came back after sometime off: Frank Mason came back after a 21 game absence and looked good. Dave Joerger mentioned post game that he had a 12 minute restriction, and it showed at times that he’ll need some time to catch his NBA lungs again. The other guy, Skal Labissiere was back in the lineup after a few weeks of shoulder trouble and was really quite good. He was active on both ends of the floor and didn’t look lost out there, and for a guy who was sapped of all confidence before the break, that’s a win. he ended up with 10 points, 3 rebounds and 2 blocks.
- If the Thunder miss Andre Roberson THIS much, give him the MVP award right now. Their defense after the first quarter was bad. How bad? Well, the Kings outscored them by 20 in two combined quarters. Sooo... bad bad.
- I’d drop more stats on you, but you stopped reading this awhile ago, and the NBA box scores are all stuck in the third quarter. On every site. I could say anything right now and no one would read it! I’m actually Akis! Fippin is fake bald! Tim is an actual giraffe! And Bogdanovic will struggle with longer, athletic defenders for most of his career.