As the Oklahoma City Thunder move closer to beginning the
playoffs, their major concern is the health of key reserve James
It’s unlikely that Harden will play in the Thunder’s two
remaining regular-season games at home, beginning with Tuesday
night’s matchup against the Sacramento Kings.
Harden was the victim of Metta World Peace’s vicious elbow
during the second quarter of Sunday’s 114-106 double-overtime road
loss to the Lakers. The Thunder swingman dropped to the court and
stayed down for about a minute before heading to the locker
Oklahoma City (46-18) hasn’t announced whether Harden, who leads
the NBA as a reserve with 16.9 points per game, has a
“I’m just happy my teammate is all right,” Kevin Durant said.
“It was a bad play. Hopefully Ron (World Peace) didn’t do it
intentionally or have any malicious intentions on that. We’ve got
to move past that.”
The Thunder led by 16 points after three quarters Sunday, but
were undone by poor shooting performances by Durant and Russell
Westbrook. Durant made 11 of 34 shots for 35 points and Westbrook
was 3 of 22 for 14, although he handed out 10 assists.
“I believe in Kevin, I believe in Russell, I believe in what our
guys do,” coach Scott Brooks said. “Some nights they’re not going
to fall for you, but if the execution is good and the shots are
good, you have to live with the results.”
Durant outscored the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant by nine as the race for
the NBA scoring title remains tight. Durant leads the league with a
27.91 average while Bryant is right behind him at 27.86.
Oklahoma City closes the regular season by hosting Denver on
Wednesday before Los Angeles plays its finale Thursday in
Facing the Thunder and Lakers to finish a sixth straight losing
season won’t be easy for the Kings (21-43), especially if DeMarcus
Cousins is unavailable Tuesday.
Cousins picked up his 13th technical foul, which comes with an
automatic one-game suspension, in Sunday’s 114-88 victory at
Charlotte. He and Bobcats rookie Bismack Biyombo drew a double
technical as they exchanged words while running down the court
after a Sacramento basket.
“It’s part of being DeMarcus Cousins,” said Cousins, who also
said he plans to appeal to the league.
The 26-point win was the largest margin of victory this season
for the Kings, who built a 22-8 lead eight minutes into the
“I thought we had the right energy from our starting lineup,”
coach Keith Smart said. “We got off to the great start that we
needed and we sustained it through the half.”
Sacramento won 106-101 over Oklahoma City in the first meeting
Feb. 9 before the Thunder responded with two victories in the
series by an average of 18.5 points this month. Durant is averaging
28.3 points and Westbrook 24.3 against the Kings in 2011-12.
The Thunder have taken six straight at home in the series.