Durant leads Thunder to win over Kings
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Kevin Durant had 27 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to their eighth straight win, a 97-95 victory over the slumping Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night.
The Thunder built a 17-point lead early in the fourth, but had to hold off the Kings and Isaiah Thomas, who scored 21 of his 24 points in the final period and missed a jumper with 1 second left that would have sent the game to overtime.
Thomas made a 20-foot jumper with 37 seconds left, getting the Kings within 97-95. After Durant misfired on a 3, the Kings got the rebound and set up the final shot for Thomas. The Kings outscored the Thunder 30-19 in the fourth.
The Kings, who dropped their fifth straight game, played without starting center DeMarcus Cousins, who sprained an ankle against Golden State on Sunday and watched the game in street clothes. Cousins is the Kings’ leading scorer (21.7) and rebounder (10.1).
Russell Westbrook had 15 points, eight rebounds and seven assists for the Thunder, who have defeated the Kings seven straight and 13 of 14. Jeremy Lamb added 14 points, Reggie Jackson had 13, and Serge Ibaka had 13 points and nine rebounds for Oklahoma City.
Rookie Ben McLemore scored 14 points for Sacramento, Derrick Williams added 13, Greivis Vasquez 12 and Jason Thompson had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Quiet for three quarters, Thomas scored 14 consecutive points at one stretch that included a pair of 3s. A 3-pointer by Marcus Thornton at the 2:51 mark pulled the Kings within 94-91.
The Thunder scored 18 unanswered points during a stretch that started late in the third quarter and extended into the fourth. But the Kings came back with 13 straight points, cutting the margin to 82-78.
Durant, Westbrook and Nick Collison all had six points in the third quarter when the Thunder used a late surge to outscore the Kings 28-18. Sacramento didn’t score in the final 3:34 of the quarter.
Vasquez put the Kings ahead briefly, making two free throws for a 65-64 lead. But Oklahoma City ran off 14 unanswered points to close the quarter in building a 78-65 lead.
The game was the start of a difficult stretch of road games for Oklahoma City. The Thunder play three games in four nights, then go home to face Indiana on Sunday. That’s followed by two more road games next week at Atlanta and Memphis.
The Thunder have been flawless this season at home, winning all nine games and tying Indiana for the best home record. Oklahoma City just concluded a six-game home stand with a convincing victory Sunday against Minnesota.
Durant scored 10 of his 18 points in the second quarter when the Thunder outscored Sacramento 31-16 to take a 50-47 lead into the half.
Williams had 11 points and Vasquez 10.
Durant and Westbrook both struggled with their shooting in the opening quarter. Durant missed his first five shots and went 3 for 9 and Westbrook was 2 of 8 while the Thunder shot 26 percent and trailed 31-19.
NOTES: The Thunder assigned rookie guard/forward Andre Roberson to the Tulsa 66ers of the NBA Development League on Tuesday. He appeared in six games (one start) this season, averaging 1.7 rebounds in 6.5 minutes per game. . The Kings shot 58 percent in the first quarter, 33 percent in the second, and 26 percent in the third. . The Thunder play at Portland on Wednesday night.