Game 58 Notes: Sacramento Kings Get Thunderstruck In Loss

Feb 29, 2016; Sacramento, CA, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) takes a shot over Sacramento Kings center Willie Cauley-Stein (00) during the second quarter at Sleep Train Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 29, 2016; Sacramento, CA, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) takes a shot over Sacramento Kings center Willie Cauley-Stein (00) during the second quarter at Sleep Train Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports /

The Sacramento Kings (24-34) looked to end their two-game losing streak last night as they hosted the Oklahoma City Thunder (42-18). Unfortantely, the purple and white fell short 131-116.

The Kings were without Rudy Gay, a big loss on the offensive side of the ball, and they were without Seth Curry, a player they were looking to get more involved as the season progressed.

The Oklahoma City Thunder’s starting five was Russell Westbrook, Andre Roberson, Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka, and Steven Adams. The starting five for the Sacramento Kings was Rajon Rondo, Ben McLemore, James Anderson, Quincy Acy, and DeMarcus Cousins.

The Sacramento Kings started fast gaining an early 4-0 advantage. They paired the early momentum with some physicality early. The Thunder’s Steve Adams decided that the best way to defend Cousins was to get in his head, and it worked.

Early arm exchanges down low ended up in an on-court shoving match between Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins. The referees assessed the technical foul onto Quincy Acy for his initiation of the conflict.

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With 5:00 left in the first quarter the Kings led the Thunder 16-11. The Thunder came out of the break playing more aggressive offensively down low, this game plan led to the Thunder taking the lead 26-25 with 50 seconds left. At the end of the first quarter, the Thunder led the Kings 29-25.

The second quarter started with the Thunder continuing their late push from the end of the first quarter leading by 11 with 8:48 left to play. The Kings responded to Oklahoma City by cutting the Thunder’s lead down to 6 thanks to the passing of DeMarcus Cousins and the shooting of Darren Collison.

The Kings and Thunder played a competitive final 5 minutes of the half, until with 1 second remaining in the half two questionable delay of game penalties against the Kings resulted in the Thunder shooting two easy free throws. The halftime score favored the Thunder 61-53.

The third quarter began with heartbreak. After an impressive reverse layup, DeMarcus Cousins went down with an apparent ankle injury and needed help walking off the court.

After Cousins got off the court he walked to the locker room under his own power to be evaluated. After the Kings were able to keep the damage minimal and keeping the deficit to 8 points DeMarcus Cousins returned to a standing ovation with 7:35 left in the third quarter.

Cousins’ return sparked the Kings offense as they cut the deficit to 4, but it wouldn’t last. Poor defense by the Kings gave the Thunder the opportunity to increase the margin between the two teams to 10 points.

The Kings fought back and for the first time this season they were able to mix resilient offense with aggressive defense as they cut into the Thunder’s lead and trailed by only 4 with 2:35 left to play in the 3rd quarter.

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The Kings couldn’t sustain their defensive play as a late technical foul on DeMarcus Cousins for arguing with the ref led to a 10 point lead for the Thunder at the end of the third quarter, 94-84.

The Kings began the fourth quarter by feeding the ball to DeMarcus Cousins to get an early 3 point play off of an and-one play.

A questionable clear-path foul committed by Daren Collison resulted in the Thunder going from a 10 point lead to start the quarter to a 16 point lead with 9:58 left to play in the game.

The Kings couldn’t find their way back into the game as they trailed by 19 with 6:00 left in the game. The end of the game saw the final score as the Kings 116, the Thunder 131.

3 Takeaways From The Game: 

  1. The Kings need to stay composed

Tonight the Kings had multiple fouls, technical fouls, and delay-of-game penalties that gave the Thunder easy points. If the Kings can learn to keep their emotions under control and to get the ball in play at a decent pace, then the Kings will be able to compete with the smarter teams such as OKC and San Antonio.

  1. When is the defense going to stay around?

The Kings seem to have a problem sustaining defensive play. There are times where the defense shows up but it never sticks around for more than half a quarter. IF the Kings want to have any chance to make the playoffs they will have to find a way to keep their defensive agenda involved in the game for longer than a couple of 5-8 minute spurts here and there. If the Kings can improve on that then they might be able to see their defensive efforts pay off.

  1. Don’t get too down, you will see them again.

This is not the last time the Kings will meet the Thunder this season. These two teams are scheduled to play in the last home game of the season for the Kings on April 13th on what could be a huge night for both teams.

Both teams could potentially be fighting for playoff seeding so this might be a very interesting game come April. It most likely will be the final NBA basketball gam ever played in Sleep Train. Hopefully, the Kings will have the services of Rudy Gay and Seth Curry to help lessen the offensive load for DeMarcus Cousins.

The Kings next game is Wednesday night as they travel to Memphis to face the Grizzlies.