The Kings really played a strong game. They delivered energy right from the jump, incredibly shooting over 80 percent while dropping 40 points on the Thunder in the first quarter. But OKC, with its many weapons, stayed stride for stride with Sacramento. And with Durant and Westbrook watching from the sideline, it was Daequan Cook who provided the finishing blows, catching fire in the fourth quarter and squashing the Kings pursuit of victory. The Kings strong effort went for naught, as the Thunder grabbed a 118-110 victory.
OUTLAW AWAKENS – Ummm, Travis…wow. I’ll be the first to admit I was wrong in thinking Outlaw (33 MIN, 20 PTS, 7-15 FG, 7 REB, 4 STL, 2 BLK, 0 TO) could be a valuable reserve for the Kings when he was signed. But this was the type of game I thought he could provide more often. It was more than just a matter of him finally making shots. It was as if he re-learned how to play basketball. Making the smart passes, cutting without the ball, making terrific defensive plays, soaring for rebounds. WHERE HAS THIS BEEN? So enjoyable yet so frustrating at the same time. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why Outlaw has struggled so badly — maybe his wrist injury, adjusting to a reduced role, whatever. But a strong finish can only improve his outlook for next season. And it’s worth pointing out, his $3 million/year contract is pretty easily moveable in a bigger deal.
DMC CLEARED – DeMarcus Cousins (35 MIN, 32 PTS, 13-22 FG, 7 REB, 2 AST, 3 TO, 2 STL, 1 BLK) caught a break when his 13th technical was rescinded and he was allowed to play against OKC. And Boogie definitely made the most of his opportunity. Playing the Thunder for the third time in a two weeks definitely helped, as Cousins finally stopped testing Serge Ibaka. DMC has such a smooth jump shot — rather than drive into the teeth of the Thunder defense, just drop the J on ‘em. And when OKC went to Cole Aldrich late in the game, Cousins recognized his advantage and took it with strength to the rack. Maybe it was the threat of missing a game, but DeMarcus seemed relatively calmer tonight. He took some physical pounding but dished it right back, legally. Finish strong, big fella.
DONTE’S FUTURE – Donte Greene (9 MIN, 2 PTS, 1-4 FG, 1 REB, 1 BLK) is headed for free agency this summer, and as much as you have to love the guy for his attitude and affection for Sacramento, it’s hard to justify bringing him back. Has there been enough growth shown? You can blame it on a fluctuating role, but really, his role is a reflection of his performance. Against OKC, Keith Smart gave Donte some fourth-quarter minutes. And with three minutes left and the game tied, Donte was staring at a wide open 15-footer from the elbow. And he missed it. Sometimes you only get one shot and a look as clean as that has to be converted. I’m not against bringing Greene back as an end of the bench guy, but with small forward being both the Kings deepest and least talented position, he may get squeezed out.
OTHER OBSERVATIONS – Mr. Efficiency Jason Thompson (40 MIN, 22 PTS, 9-11 FG, 6 REB) did it again. Great work around the basket on the offensive end and nothing but hustle through out. A keeper … Isaiah Thomas (46 MIN, 11 PTS, 3-10 FG, 9 AST, 5 REB, 2 TO, 2 STL) didn’t get his own offense going with Westbrook hounding him, but he got his teammates involved. And that assist-to-turnover ratio is a thing of beauty … Tyreke Evans (38 MIN, 18 PTS, 8-13 FG, 4 REB, 4 AST, 4 TO) seemed to handle the ball a lot more than recent games. He was getting to the rim and his spin-move-reverse-layup was one of his best plays of the year … One game left: Thursday vs. the Lake Show.