Another loss to the Sacramento Kings appeared to be a likely outcome for the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first half but after a Martin Luther King Junior inspired halftime, the Thunder woke up and took advantage of an inexperienced team, 95-88.
The contest started to the tune of turnovers. Eight to be exact and OKC’s ringleader, Russell Westbrook was responsible for five of them. The Thunder appeared to be out of control and couldn’t get into an offensive or defensive rhythm. That vibe resonated throughout the Thunder faithful as well. There was no energy in Chesapeake Energy Arena whatsoever and to make things worse, they shot 28.6 percent from the free throw line.
Things remained the same in the second quarter. Nothing seemed to fall, OKC’s three-point percentage remained anemic at 2-for-11 (18 percent) and everything they did was lackadaisical. They made the Kings looks like a legitimate threat although they are (13-29) and at the bottom of the Western Conference.
At halftime, the Thunder organization devoted 10 minutes to Martin Luther King Jr., in what was the undisputed highlight of the night, interviewing local politicians, activists, educators and ended with Thunder players, reciting King’s “I Have A Dream” speech collectively. Although there’s no correlation, the Thunder came out of halftime on fire. They were a completely different team, echoing a lot of King’s beliefs. They played inspired and worked together as a unit to pull themselves out of the hole they were laying in.
Carmelo Anthony started the game very slowly, 2-of-6 from the field for five points but in the third quarter, he scored 20 points on 5-of-11 shooting, leading the Thunder to a 31-16 outscoring of Kings.
They sang the same tune in the fourth quarter. Although the score wasn’t very indicative of an overly convincing win, there was a feeling that the Thunder would convincingly defeat Sacramento by the third quarter’s end. A few questionable calls late in the game resulted in some frustration from both Westbrook and head coach Billy Donovan and Westbrook ended up getting ejected from the game with back-to-back technical fouls. Subsequently, the Kings went on a mild run in the final three minutes but the Thunder still came away with their 24th win.
The chance of OKC getting their third-straight win is very likely considering they are playing the (15-27) Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday at home, possibly without their difference maker Lonzo Ball. The Thunder improves to (24-20) on the season and remains in the fifth spot in the Western Conference.