The Sacramento Kings spoiled Russell Westbrook’s 2018-19 debut on Sunday night in Oklahoma City, attacking the Thunder’s porous defense en route to a 131-120 victory. The Thunder shot 23 percent from downtown in the contest, 63 percent from the free throw line, and have started the season 0-3 for the first time since relocating from Seattle.
Despite the return of the former MVP, the Kings blitzed the Thunder from the jump — scoring 34 points in each of the first two quarters and led 68-56 at the halftime break. The scoring onslaught didn’t stop there, as Sacramento scored 29 points in the third, 34 more in the fourth — routinely getting buckets whenever they wanted. All told, the Kings shot 54.9 percent on the night and simply outscored an Oklahoma City team that, on paper, has far more fire power.
Westbrook had 32 points, 12 rebounds, and 8 assists in his return to action — not bad for a guy that missed all of training camp, preseason, and the first two games of the regular season. However, seven Kings scored in double figures (led by Iman Shumpert’s 26) and the OKC defense wasn’t good enough to beat anyone.
Back in action on Thursday night in Oklahoma City. The Thunder will be searching for their first win of the new season against Kyrie Irving and the Boston Celtics.
Westbrook: 32 pts, 12 reb, 8 ast, 5 TO, 13/23 FG, 1/6 3P, -13
George: 29 pts, 6 reb, 3 stl, 10/18 FG, 3/9 3P, -7
Schroder: 14 pts, 8 ast, 5/16 FG, -5
Adams: 10 pts, 14 reb, 3 blk, 2 stl, 3/7 FG, -6
Diallo: 11 pts, 2 ast, 2 stl, 5/7 FG, 1/2 3P, +0
Russell Westbrook’s highlights:
Westbrook returns: If you had told me that Westbrook would return with a 32-12-8 stat line, I would have probably assumed the Thunder won the game. He logged 35 minutes, looked surprisingly fresh, and wasn’t out of control with his shot selection. His 1-of-6 clip from deep could be cleaned up — as is usually the case — but Russ was exceptional in his return, at least on the offensive end. Good enough to assume he’ll be a full go moving forward.
The Other Guys: The Kings got scoring from the entire roster tonight. Led by Shumpert (26), De’Aaron Fox (22), Buddy Hield (17), Marvin Bagley (13), Willie Cauley-Stein (13), Nemanja Bjelica (12), and Justin Jackson (11). Sacramento shot 10-of-22 (45.5 percent) from deep and 50-of-91 (55 percent) on the evening. Got whatever they wanted.
I don’t agree, Billy:
The Diallo/Ferguson discussion: Tonight was a win for the pro-Hamidou Diallo crowd, as the youngster scored 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting in 21 minutes. Terrance Ferguson, who got the start again, contributed 2 points on 1-of-7 shooting in 19 minutes.
Come on, Pat: As one of the last remaining members of 2Pat Island, his 4 points on 1-of-6 shooting was disappointing yet again. However — and this is important — he only played 13 minutes. As a guy that needs rhythm to get going, I’m afraid he’ll need a longer leash before being given up on entirely. And before you point at his shooting, consider Jerami Grant’s 3-of-12 (0-of-6 from deep) in 28 minutes. Neither guy has been good so far this season.
Bust out the tissues: Steven misses his friend.