Kings

Kings can't contain Westbrook, Thunder in road loss

Kings can't contain Westbrook, Thunder in road loss

BOX SCORE

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Russell Westbrook didn't get a fifth straight triple-double, but the Oklahoma City Thunder won their fifth straight game and that was all he cared about Saturday.

Westbrook had 28 points, eight rebounds and 10 assists to help the Thunder roll past the Sacramento Kings 110-94. Oklahoma City has the longest current winning streak in the NBA and it's moved the Thunder into a tie for fifth in the Western Conference, pending the result of the Los Angeles Clippers' game against Cleveland later Saturday.

"We're getting it together, man," Westbrook said. "We had new guys coming in fresh off trades. We just had to find ways to get guys going. It's not always easy to be able to do that."

Westbrook had a triple-double in each of the first four games of the streak to raise his season total to 34. He needs seven more in Oklahoma City's final 13 games to tie Oscar Robertson for the NBA single-season record, set in the 1961-62 season.

Sacramento kept the game just close enough in the fourth quarter that Westbrook didn't leave the game for good until 58.6 seconds remained. He said he wasn't paying attention to his stats - "I just play, bro," he said when questioned about it - and Thunder coach Billy Donovan insisted the same.

"I don't follow it during the game," Donovan said. "I have no idea. Any time I'm making a decision, it's never a decision being made on somebody's statistical line. I'm just trying to do what I can to help our team be put in a position to win and play to the best of our ability."

Georgios Papagiannis had 14 points and 11 rebounds for Sacramento, which had a two-game winning streak snapped.

A 7-0 run, capped by a basket by Buddy Hield, gave Sacramento its only lead at 10-9 less than six minutes into the game. Steven Adams' dunk started an 11-0 spurt by the Thunder and the Kings came no closer than eight points the rest of the game.

The Thunder pushed its lead to 22 points in the second quarter and led 63-41 at halftime after last-minute 3-pointers by Victor Oladipo and Westbrook.

Sacramento came no closer than 14 points in the second half, on a put-back dunk by Skal Labissiere that made it 87-73 with 9:18 left. Westbrook re-entered the game, converted a three-point play, then assisted on a basket by Oladipo and a 3-pointer by Doug McDermott, pushing the Thunder's lead to 95-75.

"This is the fun time of year, when you're fighting for playoff position, you're fighting for home-court advantage," Sacramento coach Dave Joerger said. "They played fantastic and we learned a lot, especially the first half. . The second half, we kind of got ourselves up off the floor and picked up our level of intensity physically. We just talked about getting better and learning from this game and that is hopefully where we'll be in a couple of years if we keep taking steps forward."

TIP-INS:
Kings: Tyreke Evans didn't suit up due to what the team called a sore left ankle and Aaron Afflalo and Ben McLemore also skipped the game for personal reasons, leaving the Kings with only 11 players. ... Labissiere celebrated his 21st birthday by picking up three fouls in his first four minutes and scoring 13 points. His 32-point, 11-rebound outing on Wednesday in a win at Phoenix made him the first Kings rookie with at least 30 points and 10 rebounds in a game since Lionel Simmons on April 9, 1991, against Dallas. ... Hield, who led Oklahoma to last year's Final Four, received a loud ovation during pregame introductions.

Thunder: Westbrook has 71 career triple-doubles and needs seven more to tie Wilt Chamberlain for fourth on the NBA all-time list. ... The Thunder are the sixth Western Conference team to win 40 games this season. ... Adams recorded his 13th double-double of the season with 16 points and 13 rebounds.

AGGRESSIVE McDERMOTT:
McDermott had his highest-scoring game with the Thunder since being acquired from Chicago on Feb. 23, going 8 of 9 from the field, including 4 of 5 from 3-point range, and finishing with 21 points. He said he's making a point to be more aggressive off the dribble.

"I've been working on it because they are flying at me pretty hard," he said. "I have to have alternatives. . I just got into a good rhythm early. I got out in transition and hit some shots which got my confidence going."

UP NEXT:
Kings: Finish a difficult road back-to-back at San Antonio on Sunday.

Thunder: Host Golden State - missing the injured Kevin Durant - on Monday.

Kings adamantly disagree with perplexing foul call at end of loss to Rockets

Kings adamantly disagree with perplexing foul call at end of loss to Rockets

SACRAMENTO -- Every time the Houston Rockets tried to pull away, the Sacramento Kings answered Wednesday night in the team’s home opener. It was a heavyweight contender throwing body blows at a 100-to-1 underdog riding a huge home crowd advantage.

And then the ref called the fight.

With the Kings trailing 98-95 with 26 seconds remaining, the Rockets attempted to inbounds the ball and George Hill made a play. From the video replay, it appeared that the ball tipped off the fingertips of Houston's Eric Gordon and the nearest official called Kings ball.

Hill and teammate Garrett Temple celebrated the turnover and the sold out crowd went crazy.

The play went under review and not only was the call overturned, but Hill was assessed a personal foul. Gordon went to the line and hit two freebies to give the Rockets a 100-95 lead and effectively ended Sacramento’s chances.

In the confusion of the moment, it turns out that an official on the opposite side of the court called a personal foul and the replay wasn’t to check on possession, but to determine which Kings player would be assessed a personal foul.  

The Kings can’t call shenanigans on the officials, the league has stiff penalties for that. But they seemed just as confused as everyone else in the building when asked about the call during postgame interviews.

“I could have swore that the refs pointed out of bounds, our ball, but they said they called a foul, so it is, what it is,” Hill said following the game.

Hill avoided digging himself a hole with the league and a potential fine as reporters tried to dig deeper. 

Head coach Dave Joerger gave an account of what the officials said following the call, but he too seemed perplexed by the play.

“That was a foul,” Joerger said of what the officials told him on the sidelines. “I adamantly disagreed. They said they called it at the time, which I didn’t see. So that was more my argument than whether it was a foul or not.”

Sacramento continued to compete in the final seconds, but they were forced to foul intentionally down the stretch and the Rockets were able to hold them at bay to come away with the 105-100 victory.

Gameday: Can Kings slow down Rockets from beyond the arc?

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AP

Gameday: Can Kings slow down Rockets from beyond the arc?

Sacramento rebooted the franchise at the trade deadline last season and begin anew this season with veteran additions Vince Carter, George Hill and Zach Randolph to compliment a bevy of young players. 

Houston reloaded in the offseason, adding nine-time All-Star Chris Paul and a veteran defenders P.J. Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute. They put on a show against the Warriors and look like one of the best the Western Conference has to offer once again. 

BETTING LINE 

Rockets by 8

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Kings defense vs. The 3-pointer -- Houston launched an incredible 180 3-point attempts versus Sacramento last season, hitting a robust 75 (41.7 percent) of those shots. It’s a new-look roster for the Kings, but they’ve had very little time to develop defensive chemistry. Dave Joerger and his staff will game plan to slow the Rockets perimeter game, but Mike D’Antoni has a deep group that comes at you in waves.

WHERE THEY STAND 

Kings: 0-0

Rockets: 1-0

INJURY REPORT 

Kings: SG Bogdan Bogdanovic (right ankle sprain) out, PF Zach Randolph (tooth) out

Rockets: PG Chris Paul (bruised right knee) questionable

SERIES HISTORY 

The Rockets swept the Kings last season 4-0, including a 135-128 victory in the final week of the season. Houston leads the all-time series 124-88 and they hold an 83-42 advantage during the Sacramento-era. 

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

THE ROOKIES - The Kings walk into the 2017-18 campaign with five rookies on the roster, four of which should see time early in the season. De’Aaron Fox is the headliner, but don’t be shocked if Justin Jackson, Frank Mason and Bogdan Bogdanovic play important roles on this team.

ROTATIONS - With 10 new faces on the roster, Joerger needed more than an abbreviated training camp and six preseason contests. Expect the coaching staff to try different looks throughout the first 20 games of the season as they search for answers.

BALANCING THE ROSTER - Joerger has five veterans and 10 players with two years of experience or less. If he goes with the vets, fans will call for the rookies. If he plays the rookies and the losses stack up, fans will call for his head. It’s an unenviable position that will require patience and a little faith.

QUOTE

“I’m expecting a high-paced game. I feel like our fans are going to come out, they’re going to give us a lot of energy, playing a team as good as Houston is.” -De’Aaron Fox