SACRAMENTO -- The Kings were in trouble before they ever stepped on the floor Wednesday night.
Missing three cogs in Iman Shumpert, Bogdan Bogdanovic and Marvin Bagley, Sacramento needed someone else to step up and make a difference against a mature Oklahoma City Thunder team.
Buddy Hield did his part, lighting it up from outside to set a new career high with 37 points on 7-of-14 shooting from behind the arc and a perfect 8-for-8 from the free throw line.
“I’ve been flirting with 27, 28 for a while,” Hield said after the game. “I just knew I needed to be aggressive for my team tonight, being three of our major guys.”
De’Aaron Fox also brought his scoring punch, dropping in 28 points and dishing out 12 assists in 37 minutes.
Unfortunately, these two couldn’t match the incredible performances of the Thunder’s big three.
Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Steven Adams all put on a show in their own way.
Known for his ability to drop a triple-double on any team in the NBA, Westbrook had a little extra motivation after hearing Fox’s comments on being the fastest player in the NBA earlier in the week.
“He just keeps coming at you,” Fox said. “He attacks you one way 100 miles per hour, and it’s extremely forceful going to the rim. Every point guard you play against, especially in this conference, brings something different. It’s extremely tough to guard all these guys. He’s coming at you. That’s what he does.”
The seven-time All-Star scored 19 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and dished out a game-high 17 assists as OKC ran away for a 132-113 victory. Surprisingly, Westbrook wasn’t even close to being the star of the game.
Adams dominated the Kings in the post, posting a 20-point, 23-rebound performance on Sacramento. The league’s strongest man ripped down nine offensive boards and helped lead the Thunder to a 66-43 advantage on the glass.
“They get paid a $100 mill to do that,” Willie Cauley-Stein said of Adams grabbing more than 20 rebounds. “So if they’re not doing that, you’re looking at that different.”
Westbrook was lightning. Adams was thunder. And George was the rain that followed.
Without Shumpert to slow him down, George went off for 43 points 15-of-27 shooting to go with 12 rebounds and seven assists. He went through the Kings’ defense like it wasn’t there, and when they did give resistance, he shot over the top.
It wasn’t a blowout loss like the one Monday in Minnesota, but the Kings didn’t play well in front of their home crowd. They trailed by as many as 23 on the night, and at certain points, they looked like a young group in awe of the All-Stars on the other team.
The Kings will get a chance to get back on the right track Friday when the Memphis Grizzlies roll into Sacramento, but again, they’ll face a seasoned veteran team that will attempt to set the tempo and pace of the game while getting physical. If they don’t respond well, it could be another long night for the Kings.