Kings can't contain Westbrook, Thunder in road loss

Kings can't contain Westbrook, Thunder in road loss


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."

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.

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."

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

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

Bogdanovic, Kings look to beat Warriors at Oracle for second time this season


Bogdanovic, Kings look to beat Warriors at Oracle for second time this season

No rest for the weary. The Kings hit game four of their five games in seven nights stretch. They’ll draw a beat up, but dangerous Golden State Warriors team Friday night at Oracle Arena.

Sacramento is coming off a wild overtime win against the playoff bound Miami Heat on Wednesday. De’Aaron Fox hit a floater as time expired to push the game to overtime and fellow rookie Bogdan Bogdanovic drilled a late 3-pointer to put the game away late in the extra session.

Golden State trails the Houston Rockets by two games for the top overall seed in the Western Conference playoff chase. They’ve already clinched another Pacific division title, but they are at risk for missing out on the top seed. Every game counts as they hit the stretch run.


Warriors by 12


Willie Cauley-Stein vs. Zaza Pachulia -- It might not be the matchup people bought tickets to see, but it’s the matchup they’re going to get. With the Warriors banged up, Pachulia has stepped up and filled a valuable role in the middle. He’s strong as an ox and does all the dirty work. Cauley-Stein is getting his legs back under him after missing 10 days with a back strain. He’s improved in year four, but still needs to work on his consistency.  


Kings: 22-47, fourth place in Pacific

Warriors: 52-16, first place in Pacific


Kings: PF Skal Labissiere (hip contusion) questionable, SF/SG Iman Shumpert (knee rehab/plantar fasciitis) out, PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out until January.

Warriors: PF Jordan Bell (ankle) probable, PG Quinn Cook (hand contusion) probable, PF David West (arm cyst) probable, SF Kevin Durant (ribs soreness) out, PG Steph Curry (ankle) out, SG Klay Thompson (thumb) out, SG Patrick McGaw (wrist) out.


Wounded Warriors -- Golden State will play without three of their four All-Stars. The Kings took advantage of the Warriors early in the season when they were the similar situation of missing All-Stars. Sacramento needs to stay the course and continue to play with effort as they finish the schedule, regardless of who suits up for their opponent.

Big Moments -- If there is one thing that stands out in the 2017-18 season for Sacramento, it’s the clutch plays by the young players. Fox has four shots in his rookie season that either won or tied a game in the final seconds. Bogdanovic, Skal Labissiere and Buddy Hield have come through with big shots as well.  

Come Out Firing -- The best way to beat the Warriors is to make them work for their shots. The best way to make them work for their shots is to score baskets and set up the defense. If the Kings can put up an efficient offensive night, they have a shot of dethroning the shorthanded champs.


The Kings and Warriors are all knotted at one game apiece in the season series. Golden State holds a 201-187 lead in the all-time series and a 73-66 advantage during the Sacramento-era.

After another clutch shot, De'Aaron Fox pulls back curtain on mindset in big moments


After another clutch shot, De'Aaron Fox pulls back curtain on mindset in big moments

SACRAMENTO -- You can’t teach clutch. Either you got it or you don’t. De’Aaron Fox has it.

In his rookie season in the NBA, the 20-year-old out of Kentucky has found himself in plenty of big moments already.

Who can forget his 18-foot game-winning jumper over the outstretched arms of the Sixers Robert Covington back in November that gave the Kings a 109-108 win.

On the road in Miami on January 25, he went over the top of the Heat defense with a putback dunk to snap the Kings’ 15-game losing streak at AmericanAirlines Arena.

Two weeks ago against the Brooklyn Nets, Fox went baseline and hit a high arching floater over the top of a defender as time expired to push the game into overtime.

Wednesday at Golden 1 Center, the Kings blew a 16-point lead to the Heat, but again, it was Fox that saved the day.

With just three seconds remaining, Fox took the inbounds pass from fellow rookie Bogdan Bogdanovic. He instantly got into the body of veteran Goran Dragic, riding the All-Star guard right down the middle of the lane.

With four defenders converging on the play, Fox used his left hand to maneuver through a sea of arms and hit a 9-foot floater. The replay shows the ball leaving the 6-foot-3 guard’s hand just before the clock hits zero. The ball cut through the net and Golden 1 Center exploded.

“I feel like guys that want those moments, want to play in those close games, those guys are the ones who thrive,” Fox told media members following the Kings’ 123-119 overtime win. “You don’t usually see the guys that want the shot, miss the shot a lot. It’s the basketball gods just rewarding us for wanting to do it.”

Fox’s jumper extended the game by five minutes and the young Kings kept charging forward. The speedy guard came through with two big stops on Dragic down the stretch, showing that he is more than just an offensive weapon.

“I feel like I can be one of the best two-way players in this league in some time,” Fox said. “That guy, he’s an All-Star. He’s good. You just try to get him out of rhythm, try to make it tough. He had a great game, but down the stretch, I just tried to make it tough on him.”

Dragic finished the night with a game-high 33 points, but he shot just 1-of-3 from the field in the extra frame as Fox put the clamps on him.

Fox wasn’t the only player to come up big for Sacramento. Buddy Hield chipped in 12 of his team-high 24 points in the fourth quarter and he added four points in the overtime session. Zach Randolph chipped in 22 points and nine rebounds in 33 minutes and Bogdanovic hit a huge 3-pointer with 1:03 remaining in the extra session to put the game away.

“We’ve got a lot of guys that aren’t scared,” Fox said. “Once we sent it to overtime, it’s pretty much crunch time the whole five minutes and we have a whole bunch of guys that can make plays and make shots.”

Injuries to Willie Cauley-Stein and Skal Labissiere have forced Randolph back into action full-time for Sacramento. Despite a 22-47 record, the 36-year-old big sees major improvement in the team’s young core.

“I’ve got a lot of confidence in my young guys,” Randolph said. “They play hard and they put the time in and they work hard. When we get on the court, it applies on the court and that’s what they’re doing. I’m proud of them.”

Fox isn’t the only young player to come up clutch for the Kings this season. Skal Labissiere drilled a 3-pointer against the New York Knicks on March 4 to give Sacramento a win and both Bogdanovic and Hield have come through plenty of times with the big shots.

The Kings return to the floor Friday in Oakland where they face the Golden State Warriors on the first night of a back-to-back. While out of the hunt in the Western Conference playoff race, they continue to play hard, posting a 4-4 over their last eight games.