Thunder Comes Alive After Halftime, Hangs On to Topple Kings
The Oklahoma City Thunder looked dead in the water in the first half on Monday night against the Kings. Despite Sacramento coming in with one of the worst records in the league, the Thunder was careless and wildly ineffective — allowing the Kings to build a double-digit lead in the second quarter.
The Thunder came alive after halftime, outscoring Sacramento 31-16 in the third to establish a lead it wouldn’t relinquish. The OKC defense held the Kings to 12/40 (30 percent) shooting in the second half, clamping down to come away with an ugly 95-88 victory in front of the home crowd.
Carmelo Anthony led the way for the Thunder with 20 points and 9 rebounds, Paul George scored 18 points and had 5 steals, Russell Westbrook tallied 19 points, 16 rebounds, 9 assists and 10 turnovers — but was ejected late in the game for yelling at an official. Steven Adams shot just 3/12 from the free throw line but came away with 13 points and 13 rebounds.
The win moves the Thunder to 24-20 on the season ahead of Wednesday night’s showdown with the Los Angeles Lakers. Let’s get into some notes on the win.
46.7: The Thunder shot 14/30 (46.7 percent) from the free throw line — an absolutely astonishing conversion rate in a win. Very pathetic effort from the line for OKC.
41.9: The Thunder had a 41.9 percent field goal percentage, compared to 39.8 percent for the Kings.
58: OKC won 58-37 on the boards and outscored the Kings 50-42 in the paint.
18: The Thunder wrapped up the night with 18 offensive rebounds.
20: Rough night taking care of the basketball — the Thunder finished with 20 turnovers.
15 & 16: The Kings held a 15-point advantage in the first half. OKC went on to build a 16-point lead in the second half.
34: The Sacramento bench contributed 34 points, outscoring the Thunder reserves by 11.
13 & 4: There were 13 lead changes and four ties.
The Second Half
The Thunder trailed by six at halftime — a margin that does not/could never adequately describe how pathetic the team actually looked. OKC shot 16/38 (42 percent), hit 6/14 (42 percent) from the free throw line and committed 11 turnovers in the first two quarters. Despite OKC trailing by just six at the break, the Kings led by as many as 15 in the first half and the Thunder looked absolutely atrocious.
Oklahoma City came alive after halftime, using a heavy dose of Carmelo Anthony and Steven Adams to outscore the Kings 31-16 in the third quarter. Melo dropped 15 points and combined with Adams to score the Thunder’s final 19 points of the quarter — erasing the halftime deficit to build a 77-68 lead heading into the final frame.
The Thunder hit cruise control from there, building a double-digit lead before allowing the Kings to claw within single-digits following Westbrook’s ejection. OKC outscored the Kings 49-36 after halftime but lost all three quarters outside of the third.
Final stat lines for Carmelo Anthony, Paul George and Russell Westbrook:
Anthony: 20 pts, 9 reb, 7/19 FG, 4/11 FG, +7
Melo had just five points at halftime but exploded for 15 in the critical third quarter. He failed to score again but deserves credit for being uber-aggressive when the team needed a boost after a flat first half.
George: 18 pts, 5 stl, 7/17 FG, 1/5 3P, -4
George was quiet for most of the night and struggled to get his shot to fall. He made a few big defensive plays down the stretch, salvaging an otherwise unremarkable effort.
Westbrook: 19 pts, 16 reb, 9 ast, 10 TO, 8/14 FG, +15
Westbrook had a very strange evening. He filled the stat sheet and shot really well but was extremely careless with 10 turnovers. He was then ejected on this play late in the fourth quarter:
Terrance Ferguson goes up and gets a big first quarter block on Kosta Koufos:
Carmelo Anthony gets a surprising put-back dunk off a miss by Paul George:
De’Aaron Fox turns on the jets and absolutely torches the vaunted Thunder defense right before half. Pathetic.
One more Melo dunk because they always genuinely catch me by surprise:
The Other Guys. Five players reached double-digit scoring for Sacramento: Hield (16), Cauley-Stein (15), Bogdanovic (13), Fox (12) and Hill (10). Zach Randolph and Vince Carter both sat out due to rest.
2Pat. Patrick Patterson scored a season-high 10 points in 16 minutes of action. He shot 3/5 from the floor — 3/4 from downtown.
Angry Russ. Russell Westbrook entered with seven technical fouls on the season, then picked up a couple more on his way to being ejected. He now has nine for the season and inches closer to the 16 required for a one-game suspension.
Aftertaste. While it’s nice the Thunder escaped with the win, it’s difficult to feel very good about the team effort in this one. Sacramento is one of the worst teams in basketball — the absolute worst by several key metrics — but was still able to put the Thunder in a big hole early. Yes, OKC came back. Yes, Andre Roberson is still missing. But until the Thunder consistently and thoroughly beats teams like the Kings (and doesn’t shoot less than 50 percent from the free throw line), you take these wins and put very little stock into them. Long way to go.
Paul George discusses the win immediately after the game. Via FSOK.