Shots seem to be dropping with ease for the Oklahoma City Thunder recently. That’s not a good sign for the Sacramento Kings, who watched their last opponent put on an impressive second-half offensive effort.
The Thunder look to win their fifth straight when they host the Kings on Friday night.
Oklahoma City (18-8) ranks in the bottom half of the NBA in field goal shooting at 45.4 percent. However, after a season-worst 35.4 percent performance in a 99-90 loss at Chicago on Dec. 6, the Thunder have shot 50 percent or better in their last four games and won them all.
“The shots are just falling for us,” Green said. “We’re getting great open looks.”
Increased ball movement plays a part in the improved shooting. The Thunder are averaging 23.8 assists over the winning streak, 4.5 above their season average. They had 25 assists for a second straight game Wednesday with five players recording at least four.
“We want to see each other do (well),” James Harden(notes) told the Thunder’s official website. “On the fast break, just sharing the ball and having fun out there. You see all the excitement out there when everybody’s scoring.”
The Thunder, halfway through a four-game homestand, are looking to match their longest winning streak of the season when they face Sacramento (5-18), which has dropped its last three overall and seven in a row on the road.
The Kings suffered a 94-91 loss to New Orleans on Wednesday, blowing a 23-point second-half lead. The Hornets would go on a 20-4 run to get back into the game after Sacramento seemed to put it away late in the third quarter.
“The defensive intensity we had earlier wasn’t there,” coach Paul Westphal said. “Maybe it’s fatigue, maybe it’s inexperience, maybe it’s breaks in the game. I tend to think it’s a little bit all of them.”
Tyreke Evans(notes) had 22 points and seven assists while Beno Udrih(notes) scored 20 points. However, the Kings let the Hornets shoot 56.8 percent in the second half after holding them to 31.7 in the first.
Sacramento’s previous two opponents each shot 50 percent or better. For the season, the Kings are allowing teams to shoot 47.4 percent, among the worst in the NBA. On the road, the defense has been even worse with opponents shooting 49.0 percent.
“From the looks of it, we’re not all on the same page,” Evans said. “We have too much going on. We’re out there in the second half, we lose focus.”
Sacramento’s road losing streak is its longest since dropping 11 in a row Jan.1-Feb.7. The Kings, who open a five-game homestand after Friday’s contest, have lost all three games in Oklahoma City.
This is the teams’ first matchup since the Thunder won three of four last season. Durant averaged 32.0 points in those meetings and 28.8 over his career against the Kings - his second-highest average against a team from the West.