Sacramento Kings (20-39, 5-25 road) vs. Ok. City Thunder (35-23, 18-11 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 106.4 (16th), Kings – 105.6 (20th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 102.7 (3rd), Kings – 110.3 (27th)
Pace: Thunder – 92.8 (14th), Kings – 94.6 (6th)
View from the enemy: Cowbell Kingdom
We don’t pile into the Ford Center so much anymore to catch a glimpse of a star, but more to see our Thunder in action. And I definitely prefer it that way. But there are certainly some can’t miss guys still. LeBron. Kobe. Wade. Dwight Howard. And while Tyreke Evans isn’t a superstar (yet) in the mold of LeBron or Kobe, he is absolutely a player you need to admire live. His speed, his size, his ability – everything about his game is fairly breathtaking in person. Seeing Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Jeff Green is plenty to get me to pay the price of admission, but Tyreke Evans is certainly added incentive.
Enough about Reke though. This is the tail end of Oklahoma City’s three-game homestand. Anything less than 3-0 was to be considered disappointment, and the Thunder took care of business, and I mean took care of business, in the first two games. And in comes an improved, but still very beatable Sacramento squad.
Sacramento coming in: This isn’t the same team the Thunder saw twice before this season. No more Kevin Martin. Enter Carl Landry, a player that has given OKC problems. The Kings have won two straight after dropping their last 18 of 23. Both of those wins came at home where Sacto has won 75 percent of its games. The Kings are just 5-25 away from home.
In the first two matchups, the Russell Westbrook–Tyreke Evans head-to-head has been split. Westbrook got the best of Evans in the first, going for 14 points and 13 assists to Evans 10 points and two assists. The next meeting the Kings won by three and Westbrook had just nine points on 3-13 shooting while Evans had 20 points, eight assists and eight rebounds. So if there’s a matchup to watch tonight, it’s this one. It should be a bunch of fun.
However, I would bet Thabo sees a good amount of time on Evans and Westbrook to roll over and cover Francisco Garcia (who comes off the bench). Last game out, Beno Udrih played 37 minutes for Sacto, meaning that Evans moved over to the two, so there will be a lot of mishing and mashing on the matchups tonight.
The Kings really don’t have anyone to cover Kevin Durant though. Omri Casspi will likely start the game on KD, with ultra-athletic Donte Greene seeing a little time as well as Garcia. But this could be a big night for Durant.
The addition of Carl Landry inside certainly helps the Kings, but OKC still should hold an advantage, especially with Jason Thompson still out with a back injury. Spencer Hawes played well for Sacramento last time out, but the Kings bench consists of Sean May and Joey Dorsey on the front line, which isn’t very good. Nenad Krstic is a little banged up but will play, so add him, Nick Collison, Jeff Green and Serge Ibaka and the Thunder should have a big leg up inside.
The only thing that could stop the Thunder tonight besides a monstrous performance from Evans is to lose focus and look ahead to the big showdown with the Nuggets tomorrow night. And that’s definitely a real possibility. But if all goes to plan, the Thunder should be riding another three-game streak when they take the floor at the Pepsi Center tomorrow night.
Tip at 7:00 CST. Go Focus.