Nick Gallo (okcthunder.com) recaps last night’s loss in Sacramento: “The Sacramento Kings flowed uninhibited into offense, without pressure at the point of the screen, turning corners and hitting the paint. The result was an avalanche of wide open kick out three-pointers, some tough offensive possessions for the Thunder and a whiplash-inducing 27-8 deficit right out of the gates for Oklahoma City. After a steadying of the bows Head Coach Billy Donovan’s club gave itself a chance, but the Kings had one last burst in them: a 20-10 fourth quarter charge to create enough separation to prevent a full on comeback as the Thunder fell 117-113. “To start the game they were the more aggressive team,” said Donovan. “They were coming at us with their pace and we were always backpedaling. We were never able to generate any force coming back except for the third quarter.” Although the Thunder put together some flurries, it took the entire first half for the team to get its sea legs back. Donovan’s club fell behind by 19 in the first half thanks to 23 points from a red hot Iman Shumpert, but a 16-5 Thunder burst to start the second quarter kept it close and then a 19-6 run over the first 8 minutes of the third quarter tied the game at 75, setting up a back and forth battle over the final quarter and change. Ultimately the Thunder couldn’t overcome a 41.7 percent shooting night, including 12-of-42 from three-point range.”
NBA.com’s video recap for Thunder/Kings:
Erik Horne (Oklahoman) with observations from Sacramento’s 117-113 win: “GAME BALL: Hamidou Diallo. The third quarter was the best basketball of Diallo’s short career. Diallo saved the game for the Thunder after Westbrook and Paul George temporarily went off script. First on the drive and score in transition even I wasn’t sure of at first, then George finding him for a 3-pointer to get the lead down to 75-71. Then, Diallo doesn’t settle for a 3 off a Steven Adams pass, drives baseline and finds Grant for a bucket. Diallo finished with a career-high 18 points on 7-of-7 shooting and two steals. Most importantly (and unfortunate), in that stretch in the third quarter, the 20-year-old looked like the most in-tune player on the floor.”
Brett Dawson (Athletic) on Russell Westbrook getting back to work after his wife gave birth to twin girls: “There was little doubt Westbrook would return in a hurry. It’s how he’s wired. But when he met with reporters in the visitors’ locker room late Monday night, it was clear it had been a challenge to pull himself away from his family in Los Angeles. “Yeah,” Westbrook said, his smile betraying both the joy of new fatherhood and a hint at the challenge of leaving. “But I got a job, man. My kids are fine, healthy. I’m blessed. I’m thankful. So I’m good.” Westbrook and his wife have been parents to a newborn before — their son Noah is 18 months old — but that birth came in the offseason. This time he’s dealing with the emotionally charged arrival of children in the midst of an NBA season.”
Video of Westbrook’s post-game comments:
James Ham (NBC Sports) on why last night’s game was so important to Kings’ coach Dave Joerger: “Caught in a media storm over his future with the club over the last 48 hours, Kings fans gave embattled coach Dave Joerger a loud ovation before the start of the game. “We really care about our fans, we’ve got great fans, I love it here, I love listening to the ovation tonight – that was really cool,” Joerger said after the win Monday. “And to get the win over a very, very good team tonight is really gratifying.” It’s not the situation that anyone wants to be in. Despite assurances that his job was never in jeopardy, the stress of hearing your name brought up in regards to a potential coaching change is never easy. Joerger took the chaotic situation to heart. His young team did their best to block out anything coming from beyond the walls of the locker room.”>
ESPN has the Thunder fourth in their latest power rankings: “The Thunder are the hottest team in the NBA, having won 10 of their past 11 games despite Russell Westbrook having missed the past six contests. Westbrook’s injured ankle seems to be healed, but he missed Saturday night’s game to join his wife, Nina, for the birth of their daughters. In Westbrook’s absence, Paul George has led the way with averages of 27.8 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 5.0 APG and 2.6 SPG in his past five games.”
Around the League: John Wall was fined for verbally assaulting Scott Brooks…. Apparently everyone is on the trade block in DC…. This is rock bottom for the Wizards…. Recapping all of last night’s NBA action…. Josh Richardson was fined $25k for throwing a shoe into the crowd…. How the NBA became China’s most popular sports league.