Kings surprise the Rockets on a last-second 3-point prayer

By Charlie O. Mallonee 

The Sacramento Kings shocked the 18,055 fans at the Toyota Center in Houston — when with one-second left to go in the game — Nemanja Bjelica put up a 33-foot, 3-point jump shot that went in for the winning basket. The Kings players ran off the bench to mob Bjelica, while the Rockets stood around with mouths wide open trying figure out what had just happened.

What had happened was the Kings had beaten the Houston Rockets 119-118 to close out their four-game road trip. What was even more of a surprise was this was the second game of a back-to-back set on the road. On Sunday, the Kings beat the Dallas Mavericks on a last-second basket also by Bjelica.

The Kings finished the road trip 2-2. SAC suffered back-to-back losses in Portland and San Antonio before putting together consecutive wins over Dallas and Houston (15-8). After losing the first two losses, the Kings could have easily gone 0-4 on this road trip. Finishing with two last-second victories over two of the best teams in the Western Conference is a testament to the Kings tenacity and response to the new coaching staff.

Sacramento (10-13) has endured a very tough time without two of their star players – Marvin Bagley III and De’Aaron Fox. The good news for the Kings is that Bagley — who has been cleared for full basketball contact — may well be back in the lineup on Wednesday night when the OKC Thunder visits the Golden 1 Center. The team reports that Fox’s rehabilitation is going well, but no timetable has been set for his return.

This game was truly a battle that featured 12 lead changes and 14 ties.

Leading Scorers

  • Russell Westbrook was the high scorer in the game putting 34 points in the scorebook.
  • Buddy Hield led the Kings scoring attack with 26 points.

The Glass Cleaners

  • J.P. Tucker pulled down 19 rebounds and made it a double-double game by scoring 10 points.
  • Harrison Barnes was the Kings top rebounder with eight.

Dishing out dimes

  • James Harden was the leading assist distributor dishing out 10 dimes to go with 27 points.
  • Trevor Ariza contributed seven assists for the Kings.

Game Notes

  • The Kings hit 40 of 88 (45.5%) field goal attempts in Houston. 20 of those buckets were 3-point baskets.
  • SAC worked the free throw line in this game. The went to the line 22 times and put the ball through the hole 19 times.
  • The Kings kept the turnovers to a minimum again making just 10 giveaways that resulted in 13 Houston points.
  • Both coaches used just eight players in the contest.
  • The Kings bench outscored the Rockets second unit 27-23.
  • Cory Joseph must be given credit for the incredible job he did on defense. He spent most of the game guarding “The Beard”. Joseph put up 14 points and added six assists while guarding Harden.

Up next

The Kings return to action on Wednesday night when they will host the OKC Thunder at the Golden 1 Center.

The Rockets head out to Cleveland to face the Cavaliers on Wednesday night.

Headline Sports podcast with Tony Renteria: Russell’s value for Golden State; How Cousins fits at the Lakers; plus more

Photo credit:

On Headline Sports with Tony Renteria:

#1. How much will the acquisition of DeAngelo Russell & Willie Cauley-Stein mean for Golden State?

#2 The Lakers are happy in picking up DeMarcus Cousins how much of a big piece of the puzzle and how much does he look forward to working with LeBron?

#3 The Miami Heat are rumored to picking up Russell Westbrook from the OKC Thunder. How badly does Westbrook want to go to Miami?

#4 Tony talks about the Oakland Raiders picking up running back Josh Jacobs and linebacker Te’Von Coney.

#5 How serious will the San Francisco Giants be about dealing pitcher Madison Bumgarner and reliever Will Smith  before the trade deadline?

#6 Kahwi Leonard signed a three-year, $103 million deal with the Clippers and the contract calls for a player option in his third year.

Tony Renteria does Headline Sports podcasts each week at

Sacramento Kings podcast with Charlie O: Is there trouble in paradise between Joeger and Hield?; Hield benched in last five minutes in Minnesota

Photo credit: @NBANewsNow247

On the Kings podcast with Charlie O:

#1 Charlie O talks about why the Kings didn’t use Buddy Hield in the last five minutes of Monday night’s game in Minnesota. He didn’t want to talk about Hield and why he was benched at the end of the game. The question came up at the beginning of the press conference.

#2 Kings head coach Dave Joeger doesn’t like being questioned about his coaching and why he makes some of the moves that he did. Hield and Joeger got into a jawing match when they were playing Golden State.

#3 The Kings have struggled against Western Conference opponents with a 17-23 road record, but you would have never known that after watching the Kings play the Oklahoma City Thunder for a 119-116 win.

#4 Coming off the game in Minnesota and knowing Joeger’s reaction to the Hield question, will Joeger and the Kings shake the T-Wolves game off and turn the page?

Charlie O does the Kings podcast each Tuesday at


Kings steal one on the road downing the Thunder 119-116

KINGS 223 score
Graphic: @NBCS

by Charlie O. Mallonee

The Sacramento Kings entered the homestretch of the NBA season knowing that they needed to really improve their record versus Western Conference teams. As they began the game in Oklahoma City on Saturday night, Sacramento was 16-22 on the season versus Western Conference foes and just 5-12 playing those teams on the road.

After losing a heartbreaker to the Golden State Warriors on Thursday night, the Kings had to travel to OKC to face the Thunder who feature Russell Westbrook – “the King of the triple-double” – and the potential 2018-19 MVP Paul George who own the third spot in the Western Conference.

OKC was coming off a tough Friday night

The Thunder hosted the Utah Jazz on Friday night and had to really battle to come away with a victory. That game went into two overtimes before the Thunder finally put the Jazz away 148-147.

Paul George had to play 50-minutes. Russell Westbrook spent almost 43 minutes on the floor before fouling out in the first overtime.

The Kings needed to take advantage of the Thunder playing in the second game of a back-to-back set, especially when the first game went into double overtime.

First half perfection

Kings 223 hield
Photo: @SacramentoKings

The Kings did exactly what they needed to do in the first 24-minutes of the game. Sacramento shot 50-percent (25/50) from the floor. They struggled a bit from downtown hitting just 3-of-12 (33.3%) from long range. They dished out 16 assists while turning the ball over just six times. Those six turnovers resulted in eight Thunder points.

Buddy Hield led the SAC scoring attack with 18 points in the half. He went 8-for-12 shooting including two 3-pointers. Bogdan Bogdanovic added 12 points by going 4-for-6 from the floor. Marvin Bagley III came off the bench to score 11 points and grab six rebounds.

To no one’s surprise, Russell Westbrook led the charge for Oklahoma City who looked tired and out of sync right from the opening tip-off. Westbrook put 18 points in the book while Paul George was the next leading scorer with seven points.

The Thunder shot just 35.8-percent (19/53) from the field. The had just eight assists and turned the ball over eight times which resulted in 12 Sacramento points.

At the end of the first half, the Kings held a 63-49 lead over the Thunder.

The second half had to mean a Thunder comeback

Even if they are tired, a visiting team cannot expect to keep a talented team like the Thunder from making big runs in order to get back into the game.

The Thunder went on an 18-6 run to begin the third quarter and cut the Kings lead to just two points with 7:29 to go in the period. The Kings woke up and began to play their game. Sacramento went back up by 14 points with 2:24 remaining in the quarter.

With 36-minutes in the book, the Kings still held a 94-83 lead, but everyone had a feeling that the Thunder were not ready to give up.

The final 12:00

OKC used a combination of strong play from Dennis Schroder, Paul George, Markieff Morris and of course, Russell Westbrook to fight their way back into the game one more time. By the 6:26 mark, the Thunder had cut the Kings lead to three points.

Russell Westbrook would go on to score 15 of the 33 points the Thunder would score in the quarter. The lead changed four times in the period. OKC outscored SAC 33-25 in the final 12-minutes which is what made it such a close game.

When the final buzzer sounded, the Kings free throw shooting down the stretch allowed them to hang on and win the game 119-116.

Kings by the numbers

The win raised the Kings record to 31-28 on the season which allows them to remain in sole possession of ninth place in the Western Conference. The Clippers beat the Grizzlies so they are 1.5 games ahead in eighth place. The Lakers lost to the Pelicans (even with Anthony Davis held out of the game) which means they are now two games back of the Kings in 10th place.

Top performers:

Kings 223 MBIII
Bagley scores two of his 19 points Photo: @SacramentoKings
  • Buddy Hield led the SAC scoring attack with 34 points. “Buddy Buckets” hit 12-of-22 shots overall and went 3-for-5 from beyond the 3-point line. He also was very effective from the free throw line converting 7-of-9 opportunities.
  • Marvin Bagley III recorded a double-double by scoring 19 points and hauling 10 rebounds. MB35 also added three assists, three blocked shots, and two steals.
  • De’Aaron Fox also scored 19 points in the game. He also dished out nine assists, blocked three shots and added a steal.

Team performance:

  • The Kings outscored the Thunder 48-46 in the Paint
  • The Thunder won the battle of 2nd Chance Points 16-7
  • Even though they were tired, OKC scored more Fast Break Points than the Kings 25-19
  • SAC shot 45.8-percent (44/96) for the game
  • They hit 7-of-19 (36.8%) from long range
  • The Kings converted 24-of-34 (70.6%) from the free throw line. The key was the number of opportunities.
  • The team was out-rebounded 59-46 and still managed to win the game
  • Protecting the ball has become a key trait for Sacramento. They turned the ball over just nine times which resulted in 15 OKC points.
  • The Kings recorded 24 assists which denotes excellent ball movement

Checking the book for OKC

Key individuals performances:

  • Russell Westbrook was the game’s high scorer with 41 points. Westbrook connected on 15-of-30 field goal attempts and made 5-of-12 3-point shots. He also had a good night at the charity stripe converting 6-of-8 opportunities. Westbrook made it a double-double game by adding 10 rebounds.
  • Dennis Schroder came off the bench to score 14 points. The German transplant went 5-for-12 shooting.
  • Paul George also scored 14 points but he was 4-for-19 shooting for the contest. That 50-plus minutes of playing time on Friday obviously took its toll.
  • Markieff Morris put 10 points playing some key minutes late in the game for George.

Team numbers

  • The key number you need to know is the field goal shooting percentage. The Thunder shot just 38.1-percent (40/105) for the game. A team almost never wins a game in the NBA when they shoot under 40-percent. Yet, OKC came within four points of putting this game in the win column.

Up next

The Kings wrap up this 3-game road trip on Monday in Minnesota versus the Timberwolves.

The Thunder will return to action on Tuesday on the road in Denver against the Nuggets.

Westbrook adds 18th triple-double of season and hits game-winning shot for 110-107 Thunder win

By Jordan Chapin

SACRAMENTO — The Sacramento Kings made their return to the Golden 1 Center after a well-needed week off. The return of Frank Mason and Skal Labissiere jump started the Kings final 25-game schedule with a 110-107 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder Thursday night. The reigning MVP, Russell Westbrook, proved once again why he is one of the most clutch players in the league by racking up his 18th triple-double of the season and hitting the game-winning shot.

After trailing by 23 points in the first quarter, the Kings took advantage of their opportunities with the second unit lead by Buddy Hield with 19 points and Vince Carter with 13 points. The Kings cut the lead within eight at half, and then it was Zach Randolph time. Z-Bo finished his night with 29 points and 12 rebounds and put the Kings up by five with under four minutes to go. After several lead changes, the Thunder led by two with just 11 seconds to go in the game. Vince Carter put up a shot from about 34 feet out–missed–was tipped up several times, and with one second left, Justin Jackson came flying in for the put back lay-up to tie the game.

With exactly one second to go, Westbrook caught the in-bounds pass on the wing, and rose-up over Garrett Temple and drained the three-pointer as the clock expired. Although Westbrook did struggle from the field, he reminded us why he is a perennial All-Star in this league. His teammates Paul George and Carmelo Anthony picked him up on the scoring end, as they combined for 49 points.

When the Kings return to Golden 1 Center on Saturday night, they will have a fully rejuvenated lineup as they take on the Los Angeles Lakers. Sacramento will see Isiah Thomas for the first time since he has put on the Purple and Gold. The Kings extended  their record to 18-40 as OKC gets their 34th win of the season and stand pat as the fifth seed in the West.

Kevin Durant leads the Warriors to victory over his former team, the Oklahoma City Thunder

by Jerry Feitelberg

The Golden State Warriors faced the OKC Thunder Wednesday night at Oracle Arena. The Warriors, fresh off a smashing victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers, had a tough time getting their game going as OKC took advantage of the Warriors eleven turnovers in the first half. The Thunder’s defense held the Dubs to just eight three-point shots. The game was tied at 56 at the half. The Warriors, behind Kevin Durant’s 40 points, broke the game open in the third quarter as they were able to beat the Thunder 121-100.

The Thunder’s Russell Westbrook, Victor Oladipo, and Enes Kanter led the Thunder’s offense. They played well on defense. The Thunder led 31-30 after the first quarter. The Thunder went on a 9-3 run to start the second quarter. The Warriors came back and took the lead 44-42. The Dubs’ David West scored six and KD made a trey to tie the game at 42. The Dubs were up by four 56-52 near the end of the quarter. Russell Westbrook scored the last 4 points, and the game was tied at 56 to end the first half. Kevin Durant knocked down 20, and Steph had 13 to lead Golden State in scoring.

The Warriors, as they have done so many times this year, owned the third quarter. Draymond Green scored six points to start the quarter. Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, and Klay Thompson all came alive in the period. The Warriors stopped making turnovers, and they played superb defense. They outscored OKC 37-22 to take a 15 point lead after three periods of play. They did not let up in the fourth quarter. They increased the lead to 19 with 7:41 left to play. With the score 117-94, coach Steve Kerr removed his starters from the game. JaVale McGee, Ian Clark, Kevon Looney, Patrick McCaw and Shaun Livingston finished the game, and the Warriors won the game by a final score of 121-100

Game Notes and Stats- The Warriors improved their record to 36-6 and OKC fell to 25-19. OKC’s big man, Steve Adams, was not able to play as he is recovering from a concussion. Klay Thompson was in Portland due to an illness in the family, but he flew back in time to be in the lineup.

Kevin Durant had another double-double. He recorded 40 points, 4 assists, 12 rebounds, and 3 blocked shots. Steph Curry pitched in with 24 points, 8 assists, and 4 boards. Klay scored 14. Draymond Green also had a double-double. Draymond pitched in with 12 points, 5 assists, ten rebounds and 3 blocked shots. Shaun Livingston(8), David West(8), and Andre Iguodala(6) all made contributions in helping the Dubs win. The scoring leader for OKC was Russell Westbrook. Westbrook had a quadruple-double. He scored 27 to go along with 13 assists, 15 rebounds, and 10 turnovers. Victor Oladipo had 20, and Enes Kanter picked up 22 coming off the bench.

The Warriors outrebounded the Thunder 46-36. The Dubs recorded another game with over 30 assists. They had 35 assists on 48 field goals. They were great on defense as they had 8 blocks and ten steals.They outscored the Thunder 56-48 in points in the paint, and they had 29 fast break points compared to 19 for the Thunder. The one negative was turnovers. The Warriors committed 18 turnovers, and that cost them 29 points. They made 11 turnovers in the first half but had better ball control in the second as they were able to pull away and record the win.

The Warriors start a four-game road trip Friday Night in Houston. Game time is at 5 pm. The Rockets beat the Warriors in double overtime earlier in the season at Oracle Arena. The Rockets are 33-12, and Jame Harden’s play has him in the running for the NBA’s MVP.The Warriors then go to Orlando, Miami, and Charlotte before returning home to face the LA Clippers on January 28th.



Kings battle hard again but come up short against the Thunder 122-118

Westbrook en route to 20th triple-double Photo: Kelley L Cox USA Today Sports

by Charlie O. Mallonee

Sacramento — Stop me if you have heard this before. “Tough night. Tough game to watch. The guys (Kings) are playing as hard as they can,” Sacramento head coach Dave Joerger after watching his team lose to the Oklahoma City Thunder 122-118. The Kings actually cut the Thunder lead to just two points with 11-seconds to go in the game, but there was not enough time left to finish the potential comeback.

The Kings were down by 12 points with 2-minutes remaining in the game and it felt like things were over at that point. Three 3-point baskets by Tolliver, Collison and Gay along with three Oklahoma City turnovers allowed Sacramento to work their way back into the game. Literally, the Kings waited 60-seconds to long to start their comeback and have enough time to finish it with a positive outcome.

The Kings are playing hard. They are not giving up. They just do not have enough “____________” (fill in the blank with your own opinion because there are so many and no one idea seems to be the right one at this moment). There can be no doubt that something is missing. Be assured the Kings want to fix it. At this point, it must not be that easy to fix or the organization would do it immediately.

No team wants to be in playoff contention – and the Kings are still in ninth place one-game back of Portland even after this loss – with a record of 1-5 on a seven-game homestand. The Kings management, coaching staff and players want to fix whatever is wrong. At this point, they just have not been able to do so successfully.

What will the Kings do next? They have a multitude of options so predicting the next move is very difficult despite whatever anyone is saying. The one thing that is known at this point is the Kings want that eighth spot in the Western Conference Playoffs.

Oklahoma City Thunder v Sacramento Kings
Dave Joerger draws up a play for the Kings versus the Thunder Photo: NBAE

It was a long game on Sunday night

Early in his postgame comments, Kings head coach Dave Joerger talked about what a long game it was on Sunday night. In fact, Joerger said it felt like game went on for hours.

  • There were 57 personal fouls committed by both teams
  • A total of 81 free throws were attempted
  • Four technical fouls were assessed

Add in timeouts, arguments by coaches and players plus video reviews and it was a long night for everyone

Stars of the game

Oklahoma City Thunder v Sacramento Kings
Cousins goes to the basket against the Thunder Photo: NBAE
  • Russell Westbrook – it did not look like the triple-double machine would pull off another impressive stat night early in the game. The OKC star guard had just 11 points, four rebounds and six assists at the half. By the time game ended, Westbrook had posted his 20th triple-double of the season by scoring 36 points, grabbing 11 rebounds and dishing out 10 assists. The man is truly a phenomena.
  • DeMarcus Cousins – the Kings center had a big night as he scored 31 points for his team and made it a double-double game by hauling in 11 rebounds (6 offensive). He also had seven assists. It was not a great shooting night as he went 8-for-20 from the floor but Cousins made up for it from the free throw line by hitting 14-of-17 from the stripe.


  • Darren Collison – the point guard had just two points in the first half of the game and finished the game with 21 points. He shot 7-for-9 from the floor including going 2-for-3 from 3-point range. Collison also took advantage of the charity stripe going 5-for-6 from the free throw line. He also posted two assists and two steals.
  • Enes Kanter – he is an easy selection for the Thunder. When Steven Adams went down due to injury, Kanter picked up the slack. Kanter scored a season-high 29 against the Kings hitting 10-of-18 shots. He also recorded a double-double by pulling down 12 rebounds.

Other featured players

Oklahoma City Thunder v Sacramento Kings
Rudy Gay brings the ball up the floor versus the Thunder Photo: NBAE
  • Kings – Rudy Gay 21 points and 10 rebounds, Anthony Tolliver 10 points, Garrett Temple 8, Matt Barnes 7 points and 8 rebounds, Arron Afflalo 7 points
  • Thunder – Victor Oladipo 23 points shooting 7-for-14, Alex Abrines 13 points and Steven Adams 6 points and 4 rebounds in just 19-minutes before being injured

Spotlight on stats

  • Points in the Paint: Thunder 56 Kings 46
  • 2nd chance points: Kings 17 Thunder 14
  • Fast break points: Thunder 25 Kings 9
  • Turnovers: Kings 22 (23 pts for OKC) Thunder 19 (28 pts for SAC)
  • Rebounds: Kings 44 (14 offensive) Thunder 44 (17 offensive)

Injury update

  • Steven Adams, OKC Thunder – Adams went down after battling for a rebound at the 10:48 mark of the third quarter. He left the court and did not return to the game. Adams hit his head on the floor and was experiencing concussion-like symptoms. He will be evaluated on Monday to determine if he must enter the NBA concussion protocol program.

Up next on the schedule

Kings – Sacramento closes out the seven-game homestand versus the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night at the Golden 1 Center. Sacramento is just 1-5 on the current homestand and would like to close it out on a positive note before heading out on a brutal road trip. The Kings will play eight games over 13 days on the road and will not be back in Sacramento until February.

Thunder – Oklahoma City has the second game of a back-to-back set on Monday night in Los Angeles against the Clippers. The Thunder will then head back to the Bay Area on Wednesday night to take on Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors in a nationally televised game.

Kings win a thriller over the Raptors 102-99

by Charlie O. Mallonee

Toronto Raptors v Sacramento Kings
Raptors vs Kings Photo: Rocky Widner NBAE

The Sacramento Kings have done the improbable by defeating the mighty Toronto Raptors 102-99 on Sunday at home to complete the season swept for the second consecutive season.

The win broke up a Sacramento four-game losing streak. Ironically, the Kings victory earlier in the month in Toronto also ended a four-game losing skid.

It is too early in the season to label it a “must win” game, but it was a “we need to win soon” game. The Kings have two games remaining on this homestand with Oklahoma City and Houston – two teams that are playing good basketball right now. The last thing the Kings wanted to do was go winless on a five-game homestand.

This game had one of the best endings for Kings fans in some time. If you are a Raptors fan, you do not share that opinion. In fact, you feel your team got “hosed”.

The final 101-seconds were wild

Darren Collison stole the ball from Patrick Patterson of the Raptors. Collison pushed the ball up the floor. He then passed the ball to Barnes at the top of the key. Barnes passed back to Collison who found the trailer Rudy Gay who put the ball away with commanding dunk.

Following a series of missed shots by both teams, Kyle Lowry was fouled in the act of shooting a 3-pointer by Darren Collison. Lowry hit the first two charity shots but missed the third and Cousins pulled down the rebound.

Following a 20-second timeout, the Kings were unable to make a basket after playing keep away and committed a shot clock violation.

With 2.4-seconds left is when all the fun began.

The final 2.4-seconds felt the final five-minutes … oh they were!

Following the shot clock violation, the Raptors took a 20-second timeout which meant they would inbound the ball in the frontcourt. Toronto had to have a 3-point basket to tie the game and force an overtime session.

DeMarre Carroll was the player who was selected to inbound the ball. DeMarcus Cousins was put on Carroll to defend against the inbound pass. At the whistle, Carroll threw the inbounds pass to Terrence Ross. The ball hit the floor before Ross picked it up. Ross then took a 30-foot shot that was a beautiful “swish” shot for a game-tying 3-pointer. The ball clearly went through the basket before the red light lit up around the backboard.

DeMarcus Cousins immediately indicated to anyone who would listen that he had tipped the inbounds pass. If he did, the clock should have started then and Ross’ shot may have come too late to count.

Because it was under two minutes, the play went to an automatic video review to the NBA Video Replay Center in Secaucus, New Jersey for the final decision. After a complete review, the final decision was Cousins did indeed deflect the ball which means the clock started at the point. Running the clock from that point Ross’ shot came after time had expired, so the basket did not count. Kings win the game 102-99.

Toronto head coach Dwane Casey was incredibly upset with the officials and the decision. However, no one would expect him to be happy to have a potential tie game taken away from his team.

Important numbers for the Kings

  • Rudy Gay was the Kings high-scorer with 23 points and needed just 13 shots to tally those points. It was a nice comeback after having to two rough games.
  • DeMarcus Cousins recorded another double-double (19 points, 10 rebounds) despite missing considerable minutes in the first half with foul trouble
  • Darren Collison put up 15 points and added nine assists in a very active game for the point guard
  • Arron Afflalo scored 14 points in 19 minutes coming off the bench
  • The lead changed 11 times in the game
  • This game was tied 13 times
  • The Kings shot 40.7-percent (11-for-27) from 3-point land
  • Sacramento held DeMar DeRozan – the NBA’s leading scorer – to just 12 points
Toronto Raptors v Sacramento Kings
Kyle Lowry and Darren Collison Photo: Rocky Widner NBAE

Key stats for the Raptors 

  • Kyle Lowry led the Raptors scoring effort with 25 points. He went 9-for-10 from the free throw line
  • Center Jonas Valanciunas – who did not play against the Kings in Toronto – put up 23 and hauled in 14 rebounds for the double-double in 37 minutes of playing time
  • DeMarre Carroll hit for 17 points to make 4-0f-5 starters in double figures
  • The Raptors shot 91.7-percent (22-for-24) from the free throw line

Up next

The Kings are off until Wednesday when they will host Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Raptors have the back-end of a back-to-back on the road tomorrow night in Los Angeles versus the Clippers.



The Warriors blow out the Thunder 122-96 at Oracle

by Jerry Feitelberg

AP photo: The Oklahoma Thunder’s defense try to put the kibosh on the Golden State Warriors Kevin Durant (35) during the first half of Thursday night’s game at Oracle Arena

Oakland- The Warriors defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 122-96 Thursday night at the Oracle Arena. The game was hyped as a grudge match between the two teams. The Thunder organization and the fans in OKC were enraged when Kevin Durant opted to leave the Thunder and join the Dubs. Durant felt the Warriors would be the team to get him a championship ring. The Thunder came close to making the Finals last year as they led the Warriors 3 games to one, but they could not put the Warriors away. The Dubs rallied to eliminate them in seven. So, there was a lot of electricity in the air when the two teams faced each other in the first meeting of the year. The Thunder entered the game with a record of 4-0 and their star player, Russell Westbrook, averaged about 38 points a game in the first four outings. The Warriors, on the other hand, played poorly and lost by a wide margin to the San Antonio Spurs at home to open the season. The Dubs went on the road and won the next three games. They had a hard time with the New Orleans Pelicans and the Phoenix Suns. They found their mojo against the Portland Trail Blazers and looked like the team that won the NBA Championship in 2014-2015.

In the first period, the Thunder played well to start the game. The only lead the Dubs had in the early going was 3-2. Kevin Durant made the first of his seven 3-point shots to give Golden State the lead. The Thunder’s big man, Steve Adams from New Zealand, scored nine points in the early going to stake the Thunder to a 20-12 advantage. The Thunder increased the lead to 31-21, but the Dubs went on a 10-1 run to end the first period trailing by one 32-31. The Warriors were smoking hot to start the second stanza. They went on another 12-2 run behind Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and Steph Curry. The Warriors defense shut the Thunder down completely in the period as Golden State outscored them 37-11 to take a 25-point lead at the end of the first half. The score was 68-43. Kevin Durant led the Dubs with twenty-nine points. Steph had thirteen and Klay six. Klay, who could not hit a 3-point shot in the prior games, nailed two in the half. The Dubs tried 16 3-pointers and made eight. OKC shot just 33.3% from the floor and was four for fifteen from 3-point range. Leading scorers for OKC in the half were Westbrook with twelve, Victor Oladipo added eight and Adams had nine. The Dubs outrebounded the Thunder 36-31.

The second half became a highlight reel for Durant. He continued to make three-point shots. He made a couple of spectacular dunks and blocked a couple of shots. Steph and Klay each made a pair of three-pointers, and the Dubs increased the lead to 28 at the end of 3 periods of play. Coach Steve Kerr kept his regulars in for just a short time in the fourth period, and it allowed Kerr to use his bench as did Thunder coach Billy Donovan. The Dubs blew out the Thunder by a final of 122-91.

Kevin Durant had a monster game. He scored thirty-nine points. He was 16 for 24 from the floor and made seven 3-point shots. After the game, he said in an interview that he “wanted to come out and play good basketball.” He did not want to talk about the chatter that went on between him and his former teammates during the game. He said that stuff stays within the lines. Durant tied an NBA record held by Michael Jordan Thursday night. He scored at least twenty points in his sixty-ninth consecutive game. Steph Curry scored twenty-one and had seven assists. Klay ended the night with eighteen points and he made four three-point shots.Draymond Green added nine to go along with five assists and ten rebounds. Zaza Pachulia pitched in with 8 points, five assists and pulled down ten boards.

Russell Westbrook scored twenty with ten assists and six rebounds. Victor Odalipo led the Thunder with twenty-one. The OKC bench led the Dubs bench 29-27, but they picked up most of those points in garbage time. The Dubs won their fourth in a row and are 4-1 for the season while the Thunder lost for the first time this year, and they are also 4-1.

The Dubs travel to Los Angeles to face the Lakers at the Staples Center Friday night. The Lakers are coached by former Warrior assistant coach Luke Walton. Should be an intriguing game as the pupil faces off against his mentor. Game time is at 7:30 pm PT.


Historic season not over yet, Dubs back in the NBA Finals

by Michael Martinez

picture credit Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

Down in the Western Conference Finals three games to one, the Golden State Warriors looked lost, worn out and defeated. While the Oklahoma City Thunder seemed unstoppable and their path to the NBA Finals appeared clear.

But did people forget that this Warriors team won a record setting 73 games? If anybody could come back down three games for just the tenth time in league history, it would be these guys. And the Warriors showed their resiliency and in game seven their fearless leader, Steph Curry showed that his second MVP selection, an unanimous decision, was no fluke.

The best player on the planet and his team defeated the Thunder, 96-88, in a tough game 7.

The first quarter was all Thunder as their defense was relentless and made Golden State take tough shots. The Warriors only scored 19 points, while Kevin Durant looked to be locked in. Oklahoma City showed up in the first and gave the impression that they had forgotten about the past two games.

However, the second quarter was different and the Warriors went back to what they do best, shooting the three ball. Klay Thompson got off to a rough 0 for 7 start, but knocked down four triples in the second to help his team cut the Thunder’s lead, who looked poised to take a big lead.

At the half, OKC led Golden State, 48-42 and out of the half, the MVP reigned supreme.

Curry made three big triples in the third and the Warriors played tremendous defense. The defending champs outscored the Thunder, 29-12, in the third quarter. The third quarter was the turning point and the home team never looked back.

While Curry had a solid third quarter, his clutch performance in the fourth proved why he is currently the best player in the NBA. Curry went 5-6 from the field, including 2 for 3 from beyond the arc for 15 fourth quarter points. Curry absolutely went off and made the big shots when the Thunder tried to make a come back of their own late in the game.

The Warriors lived by the three in tonight’s game, shooting 45.9 percent from behind the three point line. Their defense also did a great job of not allowing Durant the ball and holding their opponents to a shooting percentage of 38.2 percent.

Durant did finish with 27 points on 10 of 19 from the field for a team high and Russell Westbrook totaled 19 points, 13 assists and seven rebounds. But Westbrook had difficulty shooting as he went 7 of 21 on the night.

Curry finished with a game high 36 points, hitting 13 fields goals on 24 tries with seven of those field goals coming from three point range. The Warriors win was definitely a collective effort as the team had to come together strong to make this incredible series come back. Thompson ended the game with 21 points of his own as the Splash Brothers once again guided their team to one of the franchise’s most important victories.

The Warriors spent a ton of energy on winning this series and that could be a factor as their next task begins on Thursday. But, the Warriors are headed to back to back finals. They have a player who won back to back MVP trophies. And now, repeating as champions is in plain sight.

The Cavs and LeBron James look better than the team the Warriors saw last year, but again do not count out the Western Conference Champions. History is unfolding right in front of our eyes, can the Warriors be historical once again?

Tune in to ABC on June 2 at 6 p.m, where Golden State and Curry will take on James and company at Oracle Arena in front of a rambunctious Oakland crowd.