OKLAHOMA CITY -- In its two previous games, Oklahoma City allowed its opponents to hang around, forcing the Thunder to come up big in the fourth quarter. For three quarters on Friday against Sacramento, it looked like that would not happen again.
But once again, the Thunder needed a fourth-quarter spurt to hold off the Kings 113-103 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Serge Ibaka led the Thunder charge with 18 points and 11 rebounds. It was only his third double-double of the year. Kevin Durant missed just three shots from the field as he racked up 31 points, four steals and six turnovers.
Isaiah Thomas came off the bench to lead the Kings with 26 points, all in the second half. Tyreke Evans added 21 points on 8-for-12 shooting.
Oklahoma City took a double-digit lead into the third quarter and slowly lengthened its lead. Both teams had emptied their benches in the fourth quarter as the Thunder led by 24.
However, Thomas led a frenetic charge to close the gap to 103-93 with four minutes left in the game. Thunder coach Scott Brooks was forced to bring his starters back in.
The Kings closed the gap to five points before Durant came up with a bucket to stop the bleeding. Ibaka and Russell Westbrook added a couple of shots to push the lead back to 109-98.
The Kings got within six points with 43 seconds left before Durant drained four consecutive free throws to put the game away.
The win was the 10th in a row for Oklahoma City.
Westbrook attempted to dominate Aaron Brooks in the first quarter. He started out by abusing him up in the paint, then taking him off the dribble. It looked like Brooks was going to be the victim of a serious mismatch.
However, Brooks responded with seven first-quarter points as the Kings trailed Oklahoma City 29-26 to end the first period.
The Thunder's bench gave the team some separation in the second period. Kevin Martin had his perimeter shot going while Nick Collison owned the offensive glass. They helped stretch the lead to 61-42 by halftime.
NOTES: Sacramento's Thomas sent out a cryptic tweet Thursday night that seems to be taking a jab at the team's coaching decision. "Politics as USUAL. I'm numb to it.. They won't break me!! Ima go even harder... Everything in the dark always comes to light! #TMC." Thomas hasn't started since Nov. 16 and has been replaced in the lineup by Aaron Brooks. ... The first results of the NBA All-Star voting were released Friday, and Durant is second in the Western Conference with 605,965 votes. Kobe Bryant leads the West with 639,419. Westbrook is fifth among guards, right behind former teammate James Harden. ... DeMarcus Cousins was back in the Kings starting lineup after serving a one-game suspension for striking Dallas Mavericks guard O.J. Mayo in the groin area Monday night. Forward Marcus Thornton missed his second consecutive game with what the Kings are calling personal reasons. ... Sacramento coach Keith Smart marveled at the athletic ability of Westbrook, saying he has the ability to take it to another gear. When it was brought up to Smart that Westbrook never won a national championship at UCLA like Smart did at Indiana, Smart responded "Well, he went to the wrong school."