Thunder Tries To Bounce Back Against Kings

Ben Smith, News 9

Russell Westbrook and the Thunder look to end their losing skid tonight against the Sacramento Kings. Opening tip is set for 9 p.m. CT.

Oklahoma City (4-5) has yet to win a game against a Western Conference opponent, but Sacramento (1-8) is on a seven-game slide and should be just the pick-me-up Billy Donovan needs to get his team back to .500.

The Kings are 29th in the league in scoring and 28th in defensive rating. Their leading scorer is rookie De’Aaron Fox at 12.7 points per game. Fox is one of Sacramento’s handful of promising youngsters who are still learning the in-and-outs of the NBA. Former Top 10 picks Buddy Hield and Willie Cauley-Stein join him and rookie Justin Jackson is getting 17 minutes per game off the bench.

Shepherding the young guys is the job for Zach Randolph, George Hill and Vince Carter – yes 41-year-old Vince Carter is still playing, albeit sparingly.

This is a team playing for lottery odds, not the playoffs. It’s time to “trust the process” in Sac-town.

Paul George is currently the leading scorer for the Thunder (21.0 ppg) and after shooting 30 percent from deep in the first four games, he’s elevated his accuracy to 39.4 percent from downtown.

Westbrook has a triple double in each of the Thunder’s wins this season but is struggling mightily at the free throw stripe, connecting on just 58.8 percent after a 2-for-7 performance last time out.

Carmelo Anthony has been a streaky shooter in his first season off the ball, but he was shooting well (5-for-10 from the field and 2-for-4 from three) before his third-quarter ejection against the Blazers.

OKC is 19th in scoring as a team but has been the second-best defensive team in the league, allowing just 97.1 points per game. The Thunder leads the league in opponent turnover percentage at 16.9 percent.