SACRAMENTO – The implosion at Sleep Train Arena on Tuesday would impress a physicist. The Sacramento Kings (27-51) allowed the Oklahoma City Thunder (56-21) a 16-0 run to start the fourth quarter and put the game out of reach, 107-92.
“We had some guys (who) just played with no energy…didn’t look like they wanted to be out there to be honest with you,” head coach Michael Malone reflected. “That’s disappointing.”
“To start that fourth quarter we just gave it all away. We let go of the rope.”
The Kings sparred toe-to-toe with the playoff-bound Thunder for 36 minutes, despite Isaiah Thomas, Rudy Gay and Reggie Evans sitting with injuries. A 77-85 deficit quickly spiraled out of control as Oklahoma City exposed Sacramento’s shoddy perimeter and help defense with extra passes, and even some old-school isolations.
“Sometimes you wonder if guys have a feel for the game,” Malone quipped. “If guys realize that Caron Butler is 4-for-4 from three in the first half, and he goes 6-for-6 for the game, but we have guys that still continue to guard him like he hasn’t made a shot the whole night.”
“It continues to happen, and a lot of nights it continues to happen to the same people, so those are things we’ll look at in the offseason.”
DeMarcus Cousins carried his weight for the Kings with 24 points, 14 rebounds, 2 blocks and 2 steals, but he didn’t add any production in the fourth. Ben McLemore and Ray McCallum struggled in heavy minutes, shooting a combined 6-of-23 from the floor.
Peculiarly, Travis Outlaw gave fans in attendance their money’s worth with a 24-point, 5-rebound, 4-assist night in a spot start and season-high 36 minutes. For stretches, Outlaw’s touch on off-balance jumpers had laser beam precision.
“Travis did an incredible job picking up the slack,” Cousins noted. “He was aggressive…I thought he did a really good job under the circumstances.”
Butler was lethal from deep with 23 points in addition to 5 boards off the bench for the Thunder, while Kevin Durant finished with 23 points after starting the match 5-for-5 from the field. Reggie Jackson posted 13 points, 5 assists and no turnovers in Russell Westbrook’s absence.
The Kings travel to face the Portland Trail Blazers (50-28) in their second-to-last back-to-back on Wednesday. Their response to Tuesday’s loss is worth monitoring.
Photo Credit: Hector Amezcua / Sacbee.com