The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Sports

January 25, 2013

Thunder rout Kings

SACRAMENTO, Calif. —  Kevin Durant had 24 points and 11 rebounds, Kevin Martin scored 24 points and the Oklahoma City Thunder overcame a slow start to overwhelm the Sacramento Kings 105-95 on Friday night.

Russell Westbrook added 18 points and a season-high 14 assists to anchor a 28-10 run to start the third quarter. The spurt helped Oklahoma City go ahead by 25 points and improve to 3-2 on its season-long six-game road trip, which ends Sunday at the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Thunder have won eight of 10 to climb to the top of the NBA standings.

Tyreke Evans scored 16 points and DeMarcus Cousins had 14 points and eight rebounds on a difficult night shooting for the Kings, who have lost three straight and four of five. Oklahoma City outshot Sacramento 48 to 41 percent.

Sacramento’s pending purchase agreement to a group that wants to relocate the team to Seattle still didn’t stop an announced crowd of 15,022 from showing up. In a strange twist, both teams have ties to the Pacific Northwest city.

The Maloof family has a signed agreement to sell the Kings to a group led by hedge-fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer, who intend to move the franchise to Seattle and restore the SuperSonics name next season. The NBA Board of Governors must still approve the sale.

The Sonics moved to Oklahoma City in 2008. Ironically, Thunder owner Clay Bennett is the head of the league’s relocation committee now.

Mayor Kevin Johnson, who sat courtside, is mounting a counteroffer to try to block the move. Fans still keep coming to games in Sacramento, though outside of a few “Save Our Kings” signs and others supporting Johnson’s efforts, the focus remained watching the defending Western Conference champions.

With a rowdier home crowd than in recent weeks since the sale surfaced, Sacramento stunned the Thunder at the start. Evans made a 3-pointer and Cousins followed with a dunk to cap a 23-9 run to open the game.

Once Oklahoma City found its stride, the Kings couldn’t keep pace.

Durant, Westbrook and Martin — who played for the Kings from 2004-10 — eventually mowed down Sacramento on both ends of the floor. The trio helped the Thunder shoot 52 percent from the floor in the first half, with Westbrook taking an outlet pass from Durant for an uncontested dunk in the final seconds to go ahead 58-51 at the break.

About the loudest noise the Kings made in the second half came from the sideline.

Kings point Isaiah Thomas was called for a technical foul for barking out something from the bench in the third quarter. Both teams were given a warning to stop back-and-forth chatter at each other and the officials.

The Thunder’s leading men quieted the Kings with near-flawless basketball. Serge Ibaka shut down Cousins, Westbrook orchestrated the offense and Durant often finished in spectacular fashion during a 28-10 spurt to start the third quarter that gave Oklahoma City an 86-61 lead and put the game away.

Kings rookie Thomas Robinson was called for a technical foul for slapping away Hasheem Thabeet’s hand in frustration in the fourth quarter.

NOTES: Thunder coach Scott Brooks, who grew up in nearby Manteca, declined to discuss the possibility that Sacramento could lose its NBA franchise but said Kings fans “have supported the team for many years. There’s probably a few years in there they shouldn’t have supported them.” ... Westbrook had 13 assists two other times this season. ... Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker, who lives in Northern California in the offseason, also attended the game.

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