SACRAMENTO -- Chippy. That is the only way to describe the Sacramento Kings 131-116 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday night.
The war of words started in the first minute. The physical play continued throughout. This looked more like a heavyweight fight than a basketball game and in the end, the team with the best combination of punches came out on top.
The stars came out for the Thunder. Led by Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City washed the painful taste of Saturday night’s loss in Golden State out of their mouth.
Westbrook achieved a triple-double early in the third quarter, kicking in 20 points, 15 assists and 13 rebounds. Durant finished the night with a team-high 27 points on 8-for-17 shooting. He added 10 rebounds and six assists in the win.
Enes Kanter came off the bench to drop in 23 points and Dion Waiters added 22 as the Thunder improved to 42-18 on the season.
The Thunder threw different looks at DeMarcus Cousins all night long and nothing slowed the Kings' star center. He left the game in the early third quarter after rolling his left ankle, but returned to finish the night with 35 points, 12 rebounds and three assists. With Rudy Gay out, the Kings fed their big man and he produced in a big way.
A late addition to the active roster, Rajon Rondo put up big stats, but he was involved in one of the strangest sequences in recent memory. With less than two seconds remaining in the half, Rondo refused to take the ball from the official twice, resulting in a pair of technical fouls for delay of game.
Rondo exchanged words with the official going to the locker room and almost gave the Thunder another free point. He finished the night with 11 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds, but he has to be smarter than that against a top-notch opponent.
Omri Casspi came off the Kings bench to give the team a spark. The veteran forward scored nine of his 16 points in a wild up and down third quarter. Shooting guard Ben McLemore let it fly late to finish the night with 14.
Darren Collison added 12 points and four assists in a reserve role and Quincy Acy gave a spirited effort on both ends of the floor, chipping in 10 points and four rebounds in 28 minutes.
Westbrook almost posted a triple-double before halftime and was a catalyst for the Thunder’s victory. He plays the game with a tenacity seldom seen.
The Thunder used a late run to end the third quarter to push their lead to double-digits going to the fourth. Cousins continued to pound them inside, but OKC never trailed in the final frame.
Rajon Rondo (right thumb tendinitis) was a question mark until roughly 50 minutes before tip off, but he decided to play and finished the night with 36 minutes of action. Cousins went down in a heap in the early third quarter with a left ankle issue, but he returned to put up huge numbers. Rudy Gay (right shoulder strain) and Seth Curry (right foot sprain) missed the game due to injury.
The Kings travel to Memphis for the first night of a back-to-back with the Grizzlies on Wednesday night. They hop a plane to Dallas following the game and take on the Mavericks on Thursday evening.