The Oklahoma City Thunder (20-10) broke the box score tonight in Sacramento, defeating the Kings (16-15) by a final score of 132-113. The Thunder received numerous standout performances, none greater than Paul George’s 43 points — including 14 in the fourth quarter. Russell Westbrook recorded his eighth triple-double, Steven Adams posted the first 20/20 game of his career, and Jerami Grant scored an efficient 22 points in the Thunder’s second-highest scoring output of the season.
Both teams shot an identical 51.9 percent from the field in the opening frame, as Grant was a perfect 4-of-4 from the field, recording 8 points while playing all 12 minutes in the quarter. The Thunder led 36-33 after one.
The Thunder kept the foot on the gas while ramping up their efforts on the defensive end in the second. OKC put together a 15-0 run, growing their lead to as large as 22. The Thunder defense was suffocating, holding the Kings to only 19 points on 25 percent shooting in the quarter. Westbrook, despite missing five straight free throws, was in a groove and aggressive on both ends of the floor. He “Rocked the Baby” on Yogi Ferrell on back-to-back possessions midway through the second, taking the smaller guard down to the block. Westbrook finished the half with 17 points (7-of-13 FG, 1-of-3 3P, 2-of-7 FT), six rebounds, four assists, and four steals. The Thunder took a 71-52 advantage into the break.
Sacramento stormed back in the third, trimming their deficit to eight when a Buddy Hield three-pointer capped an 18-5 run with just under four minutes remaining in the quarter. The Kings converted 6-of-9 from long distance in the third, outscoring OKC 37-27 in the process. The Thunder offense couldn’t keep up, shooting 37.5 percent from the field and struggling when George needed a breather. The OKC lead was cut to single-digits heading into the fourth, 98-89.
The Thunder pulled away in the fourth, thanks to Paul George’s 9-0 individual scoring run to start the final frame — pushing the Thunder lead to 18 with just under nine minutes remaining. OKC shot 60.9 percent from the field in the final 12 minutes, putting to rest any thoughts of a late Sacramento comeback. George closed it out for OKC, scoring 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting in the closing quarter. Westbrook, once again, conceded the go-to role, electing to pile up the assists instead. The Thunder throttled Sacramento 132-113.
PG & Russ combined:
Stein/Shams Suspension Bomb: Shortly after 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon, Marc Stein and Shams Charania took to the Twittersphere to notify the public that Thunder backup point guards Raymond Felton and Dennis Schroder would face a one-game suspension for leaving the bench during Monday’s tussle with the Chicago Bulls. Both players served their suspension tonight in Sacramento, leaving Westbrook without his top two backups.
The Return of Fourth Quarter P: The Thunder surrendered their double-digit lead in the third quarter, allowing the Kings back into the game. Then he showed up. George started the final quarter with an individual 9-0 run, essentially putting OKC in the win column on his own. PG-13 scored 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting to shut it down. He finished the night with 43 points (15-of-27 FG, 4-of-8 3P, 9-of-10 FT), 12 rebounds, and seven assists. Is there a hotter player in the NBA right now? Doubt it.
20/20 Aqua-Kiwi: Steven Adams dominated the Kings’ frontcourt throughout, compiling the first 20/20 game of his NBA career. Adams finished with 20 points (8-of-12 FG), a career-high 23 rebounds (9 offensive), one assist, and two steals. The silver screen superhero doppelganger is pushing for an All-Star bid.
Triple-Double Brodie: Westbrook took a noticeable step forward early on, playing in control and leading the Thunder in their second quarter scoring explosion. The Brodie recorded his eighth triple-double of the season, finishing with 19 points (8-of-19 FG, 1-of-5 3P, 2-of-7 FT), 11 rebounds, 17 assists, and six steals. He also took exception with De’Aaron Fox declaring himself the fastest guy in the league:
Grant’s Big Night: The Thunder power forward chipped in 22 points (9-of-11 FG, 2-of-2 3P, 2-of-6 FT). Grant has quietly been an efficient scorer for the Thunder since being inserted in the starting lineup. Are fans still expecting a drastic dip in his three-point shooting accuracy? He’s shooting 40 percent on nearly three attempts per game in the month of December.
Boomer Buddy: The former OU star recorded a career-high 37 points (11-of-25 FG, 7-of-14 3P, 8-of-8 FT) in the losing effort. Can’t imagine a better scenario for Sooner/Thunder fans. Hometown hero put up a career night. Thunder cruised to a 19-point victory.