A strong first half was not enough for the Oklahoma City Thunder as they fell 122-106 to the Sacramento Kings in their last road game of the season.
Missing Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Luguentz Dort, Theo Maledon and Ty Jerome, OKC lacked anyone resembling a point guard to lead them against the Kings.
Regardless, the Thunder jumped out to an early lead due to their dominance on the boards and their conversion of high percentage shots created off of great dribble penetration.
Shooting a season-high 62 percent from the field in the first half, Oklahoma City took a 65-62 lead into halftime.
“The effort was pretty good most of the night,” Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault said after the game in a Zoom press conference. “I thought the guys did a pretty good job of responding on both sides of the floor.”
Forward Kenrich Williams said he relished the chance to handle the ball a bit more on Tuesday night.
"I thought it was pretty fun just as a group," he said after the game. "Allowed everybody to kinda bring the ball up and stuff and initiate the offense. It was fun and I appreciate (Daigneault) for giving us that trust."
Out of the break, the Kings would take over.
Behind a blistering 7-of-11 from 3-point range in the third quarter, Sacramento outscored OKC 40-18, dashing hopes of an OKC victory in Sacramento.
“Give them credit, they came out and popped us pretty good,” Daigneault said. “They played with more aggressiveness and it just took us to long to kid of get the car back on the road. We couldn’t really stabilize the game there.
“We bled out a little bit too much.”
The Thunder cooled off, shooting just 33 percent from the field and 1-of-7 from deep in the third quarter as the Sacramento asserted their will.
Despite the result, Williams said he was proud of how his team never quit.
"They hit some shots in the third and we turned the ball over a few times," he said. "But overall, just proud of the way we competed."
With the game in hand, OKC tried to stage a late rally, but were unable to cut the lead back to single digits and represent a true threat to the Kings.
Williams led the way for the Thunder, scoring 20 points on 8-of-15 shooting, including knocking down 4-of-5 of his attempts from deep. Williams also added two rebounds, four assists, four steals and two blocks.
“He just keeps himself ready. It doesn’t matter what role you put him in,” Daigneualt said of Williams. “He’s a pro’s pro.”
Darius Bazley was the second-leading scorer for Oklahoma City, adding 18 points on 3-of-13 shooting, converting 10-of-12 attempts from the free throw line. Bazley also logged 5 rebounds and 5 assists to round out the night for the second year player.
The Thunder will return home for their final two contests of the season. Oklahoma City will host the Utah Jazz on Friday night at 7 p.m.