Originally published on SacramentoPress.com on April 12, 2011
The Sacramento Kings fell to the Oklahoma City Thunder by a final
score of 120-112 on Monday night at Power Balance Pavilion.
With the Maloofs' decision on a possible move to Anaheim looming, the
Kings came out and played hard for the 15,683 fans that came to show
support for their team. Throughout the game, fans could be heard
ringing their cowbells while chanting, “SA-CRA-MEN-TO!” and “No L.A.,
here we stay!”
Kings head coach Paul Westphal had positive things to say.
“I thought that was a great atmosphere and there was a lot of great
NBA basketball out there.”
The Kings jumped off to an 8-2 lead in the first couple of minutes of
the game, but the Oklahoma City Thunder would come back and take a
24-20 first quarter lead, commanded by Russell Westbrook, who had nine
Kings forward Jason Thompson provided a spark off the bench again,
scoring 14 of his 16 points in the third quarter. Sacramento scored 37
points in the second quarter and took a 57-51 lead into halftime.
Thompson has embraced his role as a bench player, averaging 13.2
points while grabbing 7.6 rebounds per game over the last five games
off the bench.
“I'm more healthy than I was in the beginning of the season. I've been
feeling more comfortable in the game. It's a different role for me,
and it took some time to get used to, but it's better now than later,”
The Kings extended their lead to 10 points with a couple of steals,
making the score 61-51 after just a minute of play in the second half.
Just as they did before, the Thunder would storm back and take an
87-83 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Sacramento was able to cut the lead to just five, but the Thunder
would continue to make their shots, shooting 57 percent from the field
en route to the win. The Kings shot just 41 percent.
“We couldn't stop them from either shooting a high percentage or
getting to the free throw line. They just wore us down,” Westphal
said. “I was very proud of our effort. There's a feeling in the locker
room that not only we could have won that game, but we should have.”
Oklahoma City Thunder's Kevin Durant scored a game-high 32 points,
Thunder guard Russell Westbrook contributing 30 points of his own.
Kings guard Tyreke Evans was a game-time scratch with an ankle sprain.
Kings' Marcus Thornton finished with 21 points, nine rebounds, four assists and six steals.Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins led the Kings with 30 points and nine rebounds. Cousins also had 18 free throws on 21 free throw attempts, both setting Kings rookie records for the Sacramento era.
Cousins appreciated the atmosphere that Kings fans provided Monday night.
“Kings fans support us through thick and thin, no matter what. Even
though we aren't going to the playoffs, they're still here cheering us
on,” Cousins said. “[The move] isn't something I'm thinking about, I'm
a Sacramento King.”
The Kings will take on the rival Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday
night, in an attempt to give the Sacramento fans a win in what could
possibly be their last game in the city of Sacramento.
“It's one more game," Thompson said. “It's obviously going to be very
emotional and why not have it be against a rival team you have a lot
of history with. It'll be entertaining for us. It'll be entertaining
for the fans. It’s going to be a special night.”
Photos by Ron Nabity