Thunder continue trip at Sacramento

By
Updated: January 25, 2013

The Oklahoma City Thunder continue their long trip west on
Friday night when they visit the capital of California to take on the
Sacramento Kings.

The Thunder are 2-2 so far on the trip with wins in Dallas and Los Angeles
against the Clippers. OKC fell at Denver on Sunday and lost the most recent
spot on the trek, a 104-99 setback to the Golden State Warriors.

The good news for Thunder fans is that Oklahoma City is 8-1 in games played
after a loss. And even though Wednesday’s defeat came just a day after the
huge victory over the Clippers, the Thunder took it to the final minute before
falling.

“There’s one thing we always know about our team, we’re going to always play
hard,” head coach Scott Brooks said. “We’re going to play hard for 48 minutes.
It doesn’t matter what part of the schedule or what part of the season.”

The Thunder got a shot in the arm Thursday night when Russell Westbrook was
named to his third consecutive All-Star team. He will join Kevin Durant, who
was voted as a starter by the fans.

“He plays, he competes, he does everything that we ask,” Brooks said of
Westbrook. “He improves every year. He plays defense at a high level. He’s a
two-way player and I don’t know if there’s a better one in the league that can
do both of them.”

The Kings have lost two in a row, including a bad loss at home Wednesday night
against the Phoenix Suns, 106-96. Sacramento led by eight at the half, but
lost the third quarter by five and the final frame by 13.

It was not difficult to see why the Kings lost the game, which was Lindsey
Hunter’s first as the interim coach of the Suns. The Kings committed a season-
high 25 turnovers, including eight in the fourth quarter alone.

“Very disappointing loss for our basketball team,” said head coach Keith
Smart. “We had 25 turnovers, 27 points we gave them on those turnovers and 11
missed free-throws. Concentration game, obviously we hurt ourselves.”

The Kings allowed the Suns to come back from a fourth-quarter deficit for
victory for the first time all season. It was a poor performance on almost
every level, save for one.

DeMarcus Cousins recorded his sixth consecutive double-double with 15 points
and 15 rebounds. He also handed out five assists, grabbed two steals and
blocked a shot, but he committed six turnovers himself.

The Kings leave immediately after the game Friday night to head to Denver to
play the Nuggets. That will start a six-game road trip that will send
Sacramento east to play Washington, Boston, Philadelphia and New York before
stopping in Utah before coming home.

The Thunder have won four straight against the Kings and 10 of their last 11.
OKC has even won four of its last five in Sacramento.