Thunder-Kings Preview

There’s usually little discouragement during an extended winning

streak, though Oklahoma City hopes having to overcome double-digit

deficits doesn’t become a trend.

The Thunder seek a more complete effort as they go for their

eighth straight victory overall and seventh in a row against the

Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night.

Oklahoma City (12-3) has been on a roll since falling to Golden

State on Nov. 14, extending its streak to seven with a 113-103

victory over Minnesota on Sunday.

The Thunder won after trailing by 11 in the first half, marking

the second time during their run that they’ve had to rally after

falling behind big. They climbed out of a 14-point hole in a

115-113 win over Denver on Nov. 18.

“You always want to play tough, aggressive defensive basketball

for 48 minutes,” coach Scott Brooks said. “We didn’t do it

(Sunday), but we came back in the second half and made some

adjustments and took care of the things we thought were important.

We have to play much better going on the road.”

Kevin Durant recorded the fourth triple-double of his career,

finishing with 32 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists while adding

four steals and four blocks. He joined Michael Jordan on Jan. 16,

1988 as the only players to record a 30-10-10-4-4 stat line since

blocks and steals became an official statistic in the 1973-74

season.

“Kevin is a stat filler,” Brooks said. “He can do it all and he

has the ability to have large scoring nights, rebounding, assists

and steals and blocked shots. He’s one of the few guys that can do

that. That’s what makes us a good defensive team, because he can

guard not only his man, he can guard multiple positions.”

Durant, though, would like to see a better effort on the

defensive end moving forward.

“I’m glad we got the ‘W’,” he said. “We came out a little

sluggish on the defensive end early on, but … holding them to

(41.6) percent (shooting) for the game was really big.”

Oklahoma City has won 12 of 13 against Sacramento after Durant

had 29 points, seven rebounds and eight assists in a 104-95 victory

in the most recent meeting April 15.

DeMarcus Cousins had only seven points in that contest for the

Kings, who dropped their fourth in a row with Sunday’s 115-113 loss

to Golden State. They fell behind by as many as 16 before taking

the lead in the fourth, but couldn’t hang on.

“What I like about our guys is that it could have been a

16-point deficit that turned into 30, but it turned into a

two-point lead and giving ourselves a chance to win,” coach Michael

Malone said. “We were only one defensive rebound away from winning

the game.”

Cousins had 24 points in only 20-plus minutes while battling

foul trouble for Sacramento (4-11), which committed a season-worst

24 turnovers. It ranks among the best in the league with only 13.8

giveaways per game.

“I think a lot of those turnovers was us being soft and us

telegraphing our passes,” said Isaiah Thomas, who had 19 points but

also seven turnovers. “Two or three of them I just telegraphed –

they knew where it was going.”

Russell Westbrook is shooting just 36.5 percent in his last four

against the Kings, while Cousins is averaging 10.3 points on 29.7

percent shooting in his last three versus the Thunder.