Thunder vs. Kings: OKC Needs A Win

Monday, February 29th 2016, 8:01 am
By: News 9

If you're reading this, you survived the aftermath of Stephen Curry's shot heard 'round the league on Saturday night.

The suddenly-struggling Thunder have seen the wheels fall off in the past two weeks with Saturday's debacle just the latest in a string of frustrating endings. Prior to the All Star break, Oklahoma City hadn't lost back-to-back home games all season and hadn't lost back-to-back games period since the end of November.

But after suffering a heartbreak for the record books against the seemingly unbeatable Warriors, the Thunder have lost four of five since the break and have dropped three straight home games for the first time all season.

Things don't get easier as OKC hits the road for four straight, the three won't be over until past most folks' bedtimes.

A Wednesday/Thursday back-to-back against the Clippers and Warriors sounds daunting enough, but imagine the pressure to win those if the Thunder (41-18) can't beat Sacramento (24-33) on Monday?

That's where we start. Here are a few storylines heading into what feels like a need-to-win game for the Thunder:

1. Watch Westbrook attack

If the Kings don't have Rajon Rondo available, which could be the case as he recovers from a thumb injury, expect a huge day from Russ.

Darren Collison, Westbrook's buddy from UCLA, didn't put up much resistance in Sacramento's last outing when Chris Paul dropped 40 and 13 on him in an easy Clippers win.

2. Hard-charging Clippers

It's hard to believe but the Thunder are dangerously flirting with losing their precious No. 3 seed. The Clippers are just two games back of OKC in the loss column, and if the Thunder lose to the Kings, Los Angeles could tie things up with a win on Wednesday.

Aside from the Lakers and Sixers, there are no freebies in this league. But the Kings aren't any good, and if OKC starts losing to the likes of them, it's bad news for their playoff seeding. Gotta make hay while the sun is shining.

3. Don't allow it to be Boogie's night

DeMarcus Cousins torched the Thunder in the previous meeting, a 116-104 Kings win in OKC back on Jan. 5. Cousins finished with 33 points and 19 rebounds on the same night that Sacramento coach George Karl passed Phil Jackson on the all-time wins list.

The Thunder need to do everything possible to limit Cousins' touches on Monday, because once he catches it, it's usually to late to stop him.

Tip time from aptly-named Sleep Train Arena is set for 9 p.m. CDT.