Thunder gelling well in dominant victory over Sacramento

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma City Thunder saw the fruits of general manager Sam Presti’s labor sprout in a big way on Saturday.

Doug McDermott scored high 21 points off the bench on 8-of-9 shooting to back up Russell Westbrook’s 28 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds in the Thunder’s 110-94 win over Sacramento on Saturday.

12 of McDermott’s 21 points came in the fourth quarter. It was the most he’s scored as a member of the Thunder. The third-year small forward was acquired by the Thunder in a mid-season trade with the Chicago Bulls a month ago.

“I just got into a rhythm early,” McDermott said. “I got out in transition and hit some shots which got my confidence going. They continued to find me, so you got to give them a lot of credit.”

Another key part of that trade, Taj Gibson, didn’t produce much on the offensive side of the ball but was given some props on his defense from his teammates.

“Taj’s experience is special and he showed up tonight,” Enes Kanter said.

The Thunder started the game on a 9-3 run. After the Kings scored seven unanswered points to take 10-9 lead, the Thunder immediately responded with 12-2 run and ended the first quarter with a 29-19 lead.

Six of Steven Adams’ game high 13 rebound came in the first quarter. Thunder head coach Billy Donovan was pleased with Adams’ performance and even sees potential for improvement.

“I even think he can be better than he is as a passer,” Donovan said. “He’s got really good vision. He’s unselfish. He’s got a really good feel for the game.”

The Thunder went on a 16-5 second quarter run to extend the lead to 20 and later go into halftime with a commanding 63-41 lead. Eight of Kanter’s 14 points came in the second quarter off the bench.

“Every guy on our team has talent to score the ball inside and outside,” Kanter said.

Six of Buddy Hield’s 11 points came in second quarter. The rookie out of the University of Oklahoma has scored in double-digits in 10 of the last 12 games since being acquired from the Kings in a trade with the New Orleans Pelicans on the day of the NBA All-Star Game.

“It’s been a crazy whirlwind,” Hield said. “Get drafted by New Orleans and then get traded to Sacramento, but thank God for the opportunity. I’m in a better situation now.”

Russell Westbrook matched his first half total in the third quarter with 11 points. Westbrook still has an opportunity to average a triple-double for the season, but will have to average a minimum of 7.3 RPG and 8.2 APG over the final 13 games in order to do so. He is the NBA leading scorer with 31.7 PPG.

The Kings got some contribution from unlikely places in the second half. Georgios Papagiannis led the Kings off the bench in the third quarter with eight points and six rebounds. He finished the game with 14 points and 11 rebounds for the Kings’ line double-double. Skal Labissiere scored 11 of his 13 points off the bench for the Kings in the fourth quarter.

With the win, the Thunder are currently in the sixth spot of the Western Conference playoffs and within a half game of the Los Angeles Clippers of the fifth seed.


About: Tony Capobianco


Sports Kave senior writer and podcast host

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