National Basketball Association
Thunder-Kings Preview
National Basketball Association

Thunder-Kings Preview

Updated Mar. 4, 2020 12:44 p.m. ET

Though they already have a division title and the No. 3 seed locked up, the Oklahoma City Thunder can chase some impressive individual marks if they so desire.

In the final game at Sacramento's Sleep Train Arena, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are expected to return to action Saturday night when the Thunder seek their 25th win in 29 meetings with a Kings team that doesn't seem interested in playing its regulars.

Oklahoma City (54-25) has secured third place in the Western Conference because it owns the tiebreaker over the Los Angeles Clippers as the Northwest Division champs.

As a result, coach Billy Donovan opted to rest starters Durant, Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and Andre Roberson in Wednesday's 120-115 road loss to Portland. Enes Kanter took advantage of his extended chance by putting up the first 30-point, 20-rebound game in Thunder history with 33 and 20 as Oklahoma City nearly came back from a 23-point hole.


''My thinking on holding everyone out is just to rest our guys,'' Donovan explained. ''It was a great opportunity to get those guys some extra rest and have two days before going to Sacramento.''

Now Donovan is expected to have everyone available as the club attempts to split this four-game road swing. While the Thunder don't have anything to gain from a playoff perspective, Durant and Westbrook have something to play for from a personal standpoint.

Durant is on track to become the first player to average 28 points, eight rebounds and five assists since Michael Jordan in 1988-89. He's gone 62 straight games with at least 20 points, the longest such streak since Kobe Bryant's run of 63 from 2005-07.

Westbrook is one triple-double away from breaking Magic Johnson's mark of 17 for the most in a season since '85-86.

''Whenever you're mentioned in the same sentence as Magic, it's always great. That's something you never take for granted," said the All-Star point guard, who has eight triple-doubles in his last 16 games.

Westbrook has recorded one in two of the three meetings with the Kings, averaging 18.7 points, 13.3 assists and 10.7 rebounds in the season series.

Sacramento (31-48) will try to close out a 28-year run at Sleep Train Arena with a rare victory over the Thunder. The Kings have dropped nine of the past 11 home matchups after Durant scored 27 and Westbrook triple-doubled in Oklahoma City's 131-116 win Feb. 29.

The club will move into a downtown arena called the Golden 1 Center next season. Approximately 50 former players and coaches are expected to attend the final game at the venue which was long known as Arco Arena.

''This is more of a college atmosphere, college loyalty, and college love than most NBA cities," coach George Karl said. "Saturday will be a moment that the basketball fan will feel good about. Even me, though I've only been here for 15 months. It's historically a part of my career.''

After announcing previously that DeMarcus Cousins would only be rested in the remaining road games, Karl chose to sit the All-Star center and Rajon Rondo in Thursday's 105-97 home loss to Minnesota. Rudy Gay had 13 points on 4-of-15 shooting after sitting out two of the prior five contests.

The Thunder certainly hope Cousins and Rondo remain on the bench. Cousins has totaled 68 points and 31 boards in the last two meetings, while Rondo had a career high-tying sixth triple-double in Tuesday's loss to Portland with a season-high 27 points.

Sacramento loses its first-round pick to Chicago if it falls outside the top 10.


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