NBA Preview from The Sports Network|
Monday, April 15th
(All times Eastern)
Sacramento Kings (28-52) at Oklahoma City Thunder (59-21), 8 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Oklahoma City Thunder will continue their quest to the
No. 1 seed in the Western Conference Monday when they host the Sacramento
The Thunder lead the San Antonio Spurs by one game for the top spot in the
Western Conference after the Spurs fell to the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday
The Thunder finish their regular season Wednesday, at home, against the
Milwaukee Bucks. The Spurs are at the Golden State Warriors on Monday, then
polish off the season at home Wednesday against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Last time out, the Thunder bested the Portland Trail Blazers in the Rose City,
106-90. The victory was the third in a row for OKC and clinched its third
straight Northwestern Division title.
"It feels great," said All-Star guard Russell Westbrook. "That's not a given.
A lot of guys came back better, and we've put in a lot of work to put
ourselves in a position to win it again."
Westbrook led the way with 33 points against the Blazers. Reggie Jackson added
17 and Kevin Durant scored 16. Serge Ibaka and Thabo Sefolosha netted 11
The Thunder lead the NBA in scoring at 106.0 ppg. They aren't a bad defensive
team (tied for 11th in opponents' scoring), but held the Blazers to seven
points in the third quarter.
"That has to do with energy and toughness, and I thought we had that in that
third quarter," said head coach Scott Brooks. "We had it throughout the game,
but in that third quarter we really did a good job of making them miss a lot
of shots. Even the shots that they were getting, they were tough."
The Kings lost their second in a row on Sunday night at Houston. Sacramento
fell 121-100 to the Rockets and has dropped six of its last seven.
The Rockets jumped all over the Kings with a 33-24 advantage after the first
quarter, then extended the lead to 18 points at the half. Sacramento played
better in the second half and only lost the final 24 minutes by three points.
"On the road you have to come out fast and even," Sacramento coach Keith Smart
said. "One thing this group has done, is that we take the thumps and get hit
on the chin. This group all year long has been able to put the last game
behind and move on."
Travis Outlaw paced the Kings with 15 points off the bench. The reserves were
strong for Sacramento as Cole Aldrich and Jimmer Fredette both scored in
double figures as well.
OKC has owned the Kings in recent history. The Thunder have won five in a row,
11 of 12 and 14 of 16 against Sacramento and have won every meeting in
Oklahoma City since the team re-located there in the 2008-09 season.
04/15 10:24:24 ET