Buddy Hield and Dave Joerger hug it out
For the third game in a row, the Kings went on the road to face one of the top three teams in the Western Conference in a playoff-style atmosphere.
The first two contests resulted in heartbreaking one-bucket losses to the Denver Nuggets and the Golden State Warriors. This time, the Kings came away with a win.
Buddy Hield scored 34 points to lead the Kings to a dramatic 119-116 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Before reporters were allowed to enter the visitor’s locker room after the game, the players could be heard celebrating the win.
“Family on three ... 1-2-3 family!” they said.
Marvin Bagley III had 19 points and 10 rebounds for the Kings (31-28), who moved within 1½ games of the Los Angeles Clippers for the eighth spot in the Western Conference. De’Aaron Fox had 19 points and nine assists. Willie Cauley-Stein, who took a critical charge in the waning seconds, finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Russell Westbrook had 41 points and 10 rebounds for Oklahoma City (38-21), which lost three of four against Sacramento this season. Paul George was held to 14 points on 4-of-19 shooting.
The Kings had a simple plan to attack an Oklahoma City team that was on the second night of a back-to-back after outlasting the Utah Jazz in double-overtime on Friday night.
“We’re going to play fast,” Kings coach Dave Joerger said before the game. “That’s what we do. We’re successful if we can get out and run.”
The Kings did exactly that, pushing the pace early to get the Thunder into an up-tempo game. They attempted 29 shots in the opening period and 50 in the first half, shooting 50 percent from the field while holding Oklahoma City to 35.8-percent shooting. Sacramento opened up a seven-point lead in the first quarter and went up by 16 in the second before taking a 63-49 lead into the locker room at the break.
The Thunder came out with more energy to start the second half, staging a 13-2 run to cut the deficit to three with 7:56 to play in the third quarter. The Kings quickly re-established a double-digit lead and went up 90-74 on a 3-pointer by Hield, but Oklahoma City kept coming back.
The Thunder got within five points on a dunk by Nerlens Noel, cut the deficit to three on a transition layup by Westbrook, drew within one on a 3-pointer by Westbrook and took a 111-110 lead on Westbrook’s driving layup with 4:36 remaining.
The game remained close over the final four minutes. Fox made two free throws to give the Kings a 118-116 lead with 29.3 seconds to play. Westbrook drove inside for a layup to tie the game with 11.5 seconds left, but Cauley-Stein stepped in front of him to take the charge.