Going into this one, it would have been hard to expect the Kings to stay competitive with the Thunder. And it only took ’til about midway through the second quarter for this one to get out of hand. Sacramento showed a general aversion to hanging on to the ball and were outworked by the more talented OKC. But you had to at least appreciate the comeback mounted by the Kings second unit. A sure blowout turned into a tight game thanks to Isaiah Thomas, but in the end, the Thunder stars ensured a 113-103 win for the home team.
LIVELY ISAIAH – In a game full of mistakes, one positive that can be taken away is the terrific play of Isaiah Thomas (16 MIN, 26 PTS, 10-13 FG, 4-7 3FG, 1 REB, 0 AST, 1 STL). The Kings second-year point guard didn’t see the floor in the first half, but with the game thought to be out of reach, Keith Smart turned to Thomas in the second half. Isaiah responded with his best game of the season. Facilitating wasn’t on his mind; Thomas looked for his shot and he was scorching hot. He approached the Kings record for points in a quarter, dropping in 23 fourth-quarter points to bring Sac back from a 24-point deficit to within five. If anything, the game has to be a huge confidence booster for Thomas. The question now is, does he get a chance to build on it and does he seize that opportunity? Playing time has been spotty for Thomas, but he hasn’t exactly capitalized on his chances. That said, developing Thomas and Jimmer Fredette should take precedence over playing Aaron Brooks (23 MIN, 13 PTS, 4-8 FG, 1 AST, 3 TO) if the Kings continue to lose.
KILLED ON THE GLASS – The Thunder boast a strong rebounding team, but that doesn’t explain the Kings getting absolutely manhandled on the glass. Sacramento, with DeMarcus Cousins (7 REB) and Jason Thompson (6 REB), should have fared much better, but there seemed to be a lack of effort in snatching rebounds. Additionally, the Kings didn’t get much assistance on the boards from the small forward spot or backcourt. When you’re struggling to control rebounds, it takes a total team effort. The Kings didn’t get that. OKC outrebounded Sacramento 43-29, including 14-7 on the offensive glass.
SMALL FORWARD STENCH – The Kings got absolutely nothing from the small forward position. John Salmons (1-7 FG), Francisco Garcia (1-6 FG) and James Johnson (0-2 FG) all saw action at the ‘3’ — the trio combined to go 2-for-15 from the field for seven points and four rebounds. That’s beyond awful. It only stings that much more when the small forward on the other side is Kevin Durant, who poured in 31 points.
OTHER OBSERVATIONS – Jason Thompson (29 MIN, 15 PTS, 6-7 FG, 3-4 FT, 6 REB, 4 AST, 1 STL, 1 BLK) just brings steady play to the table every night. He showed his skills in OKC, especially offensively where he was efficient as a scorer and passer … Jimmer Fredette (14 MIN, 5 PTS, 0-4 FG, 2 AST, 2 TO) got the backup point guard minutes in the first half, but he couldn’t get any separation offensively against Eric Maynor. He returned for the second half comeback, but then he couldn’t find his shot and didn’t protect the ball. Poor game … The Kings hit 28-of-31 from the free throw line, a very strong performance … Former King Kevin Martin (32 MIN, 18 PTS) was a factor, primarily in the first half. Great fit with that roster and good to see him get that chance … Tyreke Evans (35 MIN, 21 PTS, 8-12 FG, 4 REB, 2 AST, 2 TO, 3 STL) returned to the starting lineup, had some nice dribble drives and was able to convert at the rim. Also nice to see him and the other starters cheering on the reserves during that final push. Haven’t seen enough camaraderie this season after all we heard about this summer’s team building experiences.