Thunder 103, Kings 92

With Oscar Robertson sitting courtside and soaking up the

crowd’s adulation in recognition of his Hall of Fame career, it

would have been a fitting occasion for Oklahoma City Thunder star

Kevin Durant to record the first triple-double of his career.

Commemorating the 50th anniversary of his triple-double season

in 1961-62 – the only one in NBA history – the ”Big O” was being

recognized by the Sacramento franchise on Friday night. Playing for

the Cincinnati Royals, Robertson had an amazing 41 triple-doubles

that season.

Durant would be thrilled to just have one.

He came close against the Kings, getting 29 points, 14 rebounds

and seven assists to lead the Thunder to a 103-92 victory.

”I’ve been flirting all season with it but I haven’t been able

to seal the deal yet,” Durant said. ”Hopefully I will get one

before my career is over. Oscar Robertson is a legend, someone I

really look up to. It was a joy playing in front of him

tonight.”

Known mostly for his scoring early in his career, Durant has

evolved into an all-around player and is a strong candidate for MVP

this season. He played like one against the Kings. Durant made 9 of

15 shots, including two 3s, hit 9 of 10 free throws, and was the

game’s leading rebounder.

”We all know that Kevin can score,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks

said. ”But he has to continue making his teammates better. He

definitely did that tonight with seven assists. He’s a very

unselfish basketball player.”

The Thunder took the lead for good midway through the first

quarter and went on to their second consecutive victory and fourth

in five games.

Oklahoma City (46-17) remained in contention for the best record

in the Western Conference. The Thunder are one-half game behind San

Antonio and have three games remaining, including Tuesday against

the visiting Kings. The Spurs defeated the Lakers at home on

Friday.

James Harden had 20 points and Russell Westbrook scored 18 for

the Thunder, who have a 7-5 record in April. Serge Ibaka had 12

points and eight of the Thunder’s 11 blocks and Kendrick Perkins

had 10 points.

”We had to guard three of the most difficult guys in the

league. Those guys – James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Kevin

Durant – can score,” Kings coach Keith Smart said. ”Then of

course you throw the big guys in there and you can see why they’re

one of the best teams in the NBA.”

DeMarcus Cousins had 18 points and nine rebounds for the Kings,

who have lost nine of 10. Tyreke Evans scored 16 points, Jason

Thompson added 13, Isaiah Thomas 12 and Jimmer Fredette 11 for the

Kings (20-43), who are tied with New Orleans for the worst record

in the Western Conference.

The Kings had their problems offensively against the aggressive

Thunder, who tend to gamble with a shot-blocker like Ibaka and the

tenacious Perkins backing them up. Sacramento shot 41 percent and

was the 12th team in 15 games that Oklahoma City held under 100

points.

”They play good team defense and obviously with Ibaka and

Perkins down low it’s a tough matchup for anybody,” Fredette said.

”Then they have some great scorers and move the ball so

well.”

The Kings trimmed the Thunder’s 15-point lead to eight with 4:30

left in the fourth quarter, aided by Fredette’s six points. But the

Thunder kept their composure down the stretch to maintain the lead

and preserve the victory.

”We made them miss shots in the second half and I thought we

rebounded better in the second half,” Brooks said. ”We did a

great job of moving the ball. Everybody had shots, everybody had

looks, and Kevin was solid.”

At halftime, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson talked about opening

the line of communications with the Kings owners regarding plans

for a tentative new downtown arena that fell apart last week.

Johnson, who has been very critical of the owners’ decision, met

with the Maloofs in Las Vegas on Friday and will talk sometime

again next week.

”I understand a little bit of where George’s (Maloof)

perspective was,” Johnson said. ”Not that I fully agree with it,

but I fully understand his perspective. It (today) was a solid step

forward.”

It’s been another difficult season for the Kings both on and off

the court. Besides the arena plan seemingly derailed, Sacramento

has experienced its sixth straight losing season.

Durant made all three shots in the third quarter, including two

3s, and had eight points to help the Thunder lead 81-70 after

three.

After Thomas’ 3-pointer pulled the Kings within three points,

the Thunder ran off eight straight points. Westbrook banked in a

jumper and then knifed through the defense for a layup. Two free

throws by Harden put the Thunder up 75-64 at the 4:39 mark.

Sacramento played the game without leading scorer Marcus

Thornton, who suffered a left quad contusion in Wednesday’s game

against San Antonio.

Notes: Robertson averaged 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 11.4

assists in 1961-62. … Thomas was given the annual Oscar Robertson

Triple-Double award, which signifies excellence both on and off the

court. . Trailing by seven points in the game’s first 5 minutes,

the Thunder outscored the Kings 22-6 the remainder of the period to

take a 32-23 lead into the second. … Angered over some non-calls

following a flurry of blocked shots by the Thunder late in the

second quarter, Smart got a technical foul. . Kings veteran John

Salmons missed his 14th straight game with sore hip and appears

unlikely to return this season.