Kings rally past Thunder, snap seven-game skid
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — As they set off on a path toward respectability, the Sacramento Kings figured there would be many more nights of losing than winning. But they also figured they would have some signature moments along the way.
The Kings’ 94-86 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday at the Golden 1 Center certainly qualified.
“We had a lot of fun tonight,” Sacramento rookie guard Justin Jackson said. “We moved the ball, we played hard, and we never really quit. ... It feels good.”
It certainly didn’t appear the Kings’ night would end that way when it started. Sacramento gave up the first 10 points and missed 13 of their first 14 shots en route to shooting 4-for-25 in the first quarter and falling into a 25-8 deficit late in the period.
The Kings’ first 29 points were scored by reserves, an NBA record, breaking the mark of 23 set by the Milwaukee Bucks at Orlando on April 5, 2011.
But after that, the game turned, with Sacramento hitting 23 of 38 shots while outscoring the Thunder 57-32 over the middle two periods.
“It was a good game, and a good win for us,” Kings coach Dave Joerger said. “I’m excited for our guys. They’ve been practicing well, and we haven’t been able to get rewarded with a win. We’re looking for small victories, and this was a big victory.”
Buddy Hield had a game-high 21 points for Sacramento. He sparked the Kings’ comeback by canning a long jumper with 26 seconds left in the first quarter and then converting back-to-back 3-pointers to begin the second.
Hield made all four of his shots during his 10-point second quarter that got the Kings off the deck. He finished with 15 first-half points.
“I thought that really changed the momentum of the game,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said.
Sacramento made 12 of 17 shots in the second quarter and 11 of 21 in the third quarter.
Kings forward Zach Randolph did the heavy lifting the second half, scoring all 18 of his points after halftime. Six of them came during a 14-9 run late in the fourth quarter that helped Sacramento hold off an Oklahoma City surge that cut the Kings’ lead to 75-74 with 6:30 to go.
Jackson added a career-best 16 points on 7-for-14 shooting, and the Kings ended a seven-game losing streak. The victory also was Sacramento’s first in four tries at home this season. The Kings haven’t opened a campaign with four straight home losses since 1990-91.
“For us, it’s about not getting down when we struggle,” Jackson said. “It’s about sticking with it and keep playing.”
Russell Westbrook scored 20 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for Oklahoma City, but the Thunder (4-6) lost for the third straight time. The Thunder made only 33.7 percent of their shots and converted just 10 of 40 from the floor during the middle two periods.
“We were on and off offensively,” Donovan said. “We had some possessions where we were not really good, and we had some other possessions where we got some open looks and just weren’t able to knock down the shots.”
Oklahoma City made only 5 of 19 shots in the second quarter and 5 of 21 in the third.
Rookie De’Aaron Fox came off the bench to contribute 10 points and eight assists for Sacramento (2-8).
Carmelo Anthony added 16 points for the Thunder, Steven Adams chipped in 14 and Paul George scored 12.
NOTES: Thunder G Russell Westbrook has four triple-doubles through the season’s first 10 games. A year ago, he had managed only three in the same period en route to a single-season record of 42. ... Kings coach Dave Joerger returned rookie G De’Aaron Fox to the bench to start the game. Fox started at Detroit in the final game of the team’s three-game road trip. The Kings returned G George Hill to the starting lineup. ... How good has Oklahoma City’s defense been early in the season? In addition to allowing only 97.1 points per game, second best in the NBA, it had forced turnovers on 19.3 percent of opponents’ possessions before Tuesday. The Thunder forced 23 against Sacramento. ... The Kings’ 10-point first quarter marked the fourth time in the past five games that Sacramento scored fewer than 20 in at least one quarter. The Kings were second-to-last in the league in scoring entering the night.