Behind a strong third quarter, the Oklahoma City Thunder overcame a 15-point first-half deficit to defeat the Kings 95-88 on Monday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
The Thunder (24-20) outscored the Kings 31-16 in the third, sparked by Carmelo Anthony, who scored 15 of his game-high 20 points in the quarter.
Russell Westbrook had 19 points, 16 rebounds and nine assists before being ejected in the fourth quarter. He received two technical fouls for arguing with an official.
Buddy Hield led the Kings (13-30) with 16 points. Willie Cauley-Stein had 15 points and seven rebounds for Sacramento, which has lost five and a row and eight of its last nine.
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Here are three takeaways from the game:
Going young will be the norm
George Hill came off the bench. Zach Randolph and Vince Carter did not play. Seeing Sacramento’s older players take a lesser role won’t be unusual the rest of the season, as the Kings look to give their younger players more time to develop on the court.
Much like the later part of last season, you can expect the more seasoned Kings to be given games off on a regular basis.
Getting roughed up
The Thunder are a bigger and stronger team. It showed in their huge rebounding advantage (58-37). Their length and experience also helped force the Kings into a bad shooting night at 39.8 percent (33 of 83).
Can’t give away easy points
The Kings were 15 of 25 (60 percent) from the free-throw line. For a team that has struggled a lot to score, they cannot afford to miss out on what should be easy points.
That’s especially true against a good defensive team like the Thunder.