8 is great! OKC wins 8th straight by beating Kings

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

It took a team effort from the Oklahoma City Thunder tonight to steal a win in Sacramento. Oklahoma City used an 18-0 run to give Oklahoma City the lead for good and fought off a streaking Kings team to win 97-95 at the Sleep Train Arena on Tuesday night.

Kevin Durant scored 27 points on 8-of-21 shooting. He also grabbed 11 rebounds and hit 10-of-10 free throws. It was Durant’s seventh double-double this season and his fourth consecutive.

It was a poor first quarter for the Thunder, especially trying to get to the rim. Oklahoma City was just 1-of-10 shooting at the rim in the first quarter, and boy was it frustrating. Oklahoma City hit their first shot of the quarter off a Russell Westbrook jumper, then watched the Sacramento Kings score the next 14 points before Kendrick Perkins put a dunk back with 7:05 left in the quarter.

Oklahoma City (13-3) tried making a run at it in the quarter, but ended up falling back 31-19 after the first quarter. The Thunder shot just 27 percent from the floor and struggled at getting good shots at the rim.

With 5:56 left in the second quarter, Oklahoma City trailed 40-30. Something clicked with the Thunder. Oklahoma City went on 17-5 run over the next four minutes, and the Thunder had their second lead of the game at 47-45. The Thunder finished the half with the 50-47 lead.

After the Sacramento Kings (4-12) grabbed the 65-64 lead with 3:34 left in the third quarter, Oklahoma City did that run thing again. Oklahoma City lit up the Kings over the next 4:28, the Thunder outscored the Kings 18-0. The lead reached the max of 17 points with the spurt.

Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb were great once again for Oklahoma City. The Thunder starters who struggled for the most of the game, really were bailed out through the pay of Jackson and Lamb. They combined to go 10-of-18 for 27 points. They were also a combined +23 for Oklahoma City.

However, that’s when Isaiah Thomas decided to blow up the Thunder’s chance at a blow out. Thomas scored 21 points in the fourth quarter as the Thunder watched their 17-point lead drop to two points with 37 seconds left. Thomas had a chance to win the game for the Kings, but it was Westbrook’s defense that was really fantastic. He hounded Thomas and forced him to fumble the ball around and got up a really contested shot, not giving the Kings a real chance at victory.

Keys to the Game

Russell Westbrook: C
Despite having 15 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, he shot 36.8 percent (7-of-19) and turned the ball over seven times. He really didn’t have a great game. A couple of non-foul calls on him late in the came helped that turnover level. I think Westbrook just didn’t get the shots to fall. However, with his offensive woes, he played a decent defensive game. He shut down Thomas on that final drive and really never allowed Greivis Vasquez to do too much.

Defend the Paint: A+
With no DeMarcus Cousins in the game for the Kings, Oklahoma City really just kept the Kings out of the paint and into the shooting mid-range shots. Sacramento had just 27 points in the paint, that includes 12 in the first half. It was very instrumental in the Thunder’s ability to pull off that 18-0 run that spanned the third and fourth quarter.

Serge Ibaka: C+
Early on Oklahoma City was trying to force the ball to Ibaka, trying to get his shot to fall. He started 2-of-7 and was doing a lot of isolation possessions. Once the Thunder went away from that and let him more on the catch and shoot, he finished 4-of-6 from the field. Pretty solid. He also blocked two shots and grabbed nine boards.

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